The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted appeals filed by the State of Arkansas Department of Information Systems (DIS) on behalf of 15 E-rate applicants for FY 2004 and 2005 Form 486, Form 472, and Form 471 applications that were filed after the established deadline. In these specific cases the DIS argued that the late or missed filings were a result of changes in E-rate personnel and confusion with E-rate rules and regulations.
For the applicants on the appeal who missed the deadline for the Form 486 or Form 472, the Commission found "…as in the Alaska Gateway Order, given that the applicants missed a USAC procedural deadline and did not violate a Commission rule, we find that the complete rejection of each of these applications is not warranted."
In FY 2005 the DIS filed a Form 471 but due to a clerical mistake on a funding request requested $27,614 a month rather than the intended $489,993 per month. The applicant's Item 21 documentation demonstrated they actually meant to request the nearly $4.1 million for a wide area network.
The FCC granted the DIS a waiver citing the Bishop Perry Order as the precedent. The FCC stated in their appeal decision "…based on the record before us, we thus find that the mistake at issue here is sufficiently similar to those in the Bishop Perry Order, warranting a waiver of the Commission’s rules. As the Commission noted in the Bishop Perry Order, many E-rate program beneficiaries, particularly small entities, contend that the application process is complicated, resulting in a significant number of applications for E-rate support being denied for ministerial, clerical or procedural errors. Therefore, as in the Bishop Perry Order, we find that the complete rejection of this application is not warranted, given that the violation at issue is procedural, not substantive…"
The FCC also continues to acknowledge that the primary jobs of most of the people who fill out the E-rate forms are teachers and administrators as opposed to dedicated grant writers or staff. The FCC estimates that these appeals may result in approximately $6.6 million in funding and USAC has already reserved sufficient funds to address all outstanding appeals.
Funds For Learning has cataloged hundreds of FCC appeal decisions in order to make it easier for E-rate beneficiaries to make strong appeal arguments by citing past FCC precedents. The appeal decisions are available to subscribers of Funds For Learning's award-winning E-rate Manager services.
This appeal decision can be viewed here.