The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comments from Universal Service stakeholders on how to strengthen the management, administration and oversight of the fund. The Schools and Libraries program (E-rate) is one of the four Universal Service programs. The FCC stated that their “… primary goal in initiating this NOI is to ensure sufficient safeguards are in place for the USF to operate as Congress intended…”
Over the last couple of years, the FCC has taken steps to improve oversight such as spending more resources on audits. The FCC Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that based on the 459 audits completed, the E-rate has an unacceptable high improper payment rate of 12.9%. The auditors further reported non-compliance in several areas, such as record keeping; eligible services; using the correct discount; and entering into a contract too early in the application process. Based on those results, the OIG is in the process of conducted 650 more beneficiary audits (Schools and Libraries and High Cost Fund programs only). In Fiscal Year 2008, the FCC requested and received from Congress $21.48 million for the Inspector General’s USF oversight efforts. The Commission has requested an additional $25.48 million in USF oversight funding for the Inspector General in Fiscal Year 2009.
Comments Due: 30 days after publication in the Federal Register
Reply Comments Due: 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register
Funds For Learning will announce comment due date once the NOI has been officially released in the Federal Register.
To view the USF NOI click here.