The FCC released appeal decisions affecting 70 applications from 1999 through 2008 involving the E-rate competitive bidding and procurement regulations. The FCC granted 39 and denied 31 appeals and they estimate that the appeals granted involve approximately $6.7 million. The SLD has 120 days to review and issue a funding commitment decision letter for the appeals that were granted.
The Commission cited the Aberdeen School District Order and the Bishop Perry Order in granting these appeals. In these two appeal decisions the FCC showed flexibility regarding applicants committing minor errors, ministerial or administrative mistakes that did not involve waste, fraud or abuse. Many of the applicants either had a wrong contract date on the Form 471, incorrect Form 470 number, signed contracts after the 28 day waiting period, but established shorter deadlines in their RFP, or had an incorrect classification of service on their Form 470. The FCC determined that these mistakes did not warrant the full denial of their applications and waived their rules pertaining to these mistakes.
The FCC showed further flexibility by granting appeals where applicants did not wait the full 28 days required as part of the Form 470 posting and service provider selection process before entering into an agreement. The FCC stated that these applicants “only missed the 28-day deadline by a minimum number of days (i.e, one to three days) and therefore their requests for discounted services were subject to competitive bidding for a meaningful period of time.” While the FCC granted this waiver, they also warned that applicants still need to comply with all competitive bidding rules and regulations and applicants “are not free to disregard the 28-day competitive bidding requirements.”
USAC also denied several applicants that sought multi-year contacts or contracts with voluntary extensions. These applicants received funding the first year of the agreement, but in subsequent years the requests were denied because the applicant did not specify on the Form 470 that they were specifically seeking those options. However, applicants were not required to disclose that information at the time the Form 470’s were originally posted and the FCC granted their appeals.
The FCC denied 19 appeals where they found that the applicants did violate E-rate procurement rules and did not rise to the level of granting waiver requests.
Funds For Learning’s Database of FCC Appeals
Funds For Learning has cataloged these decisions and hundreds of other decisions in a searchable database of FCC appeal decisions. This makes it easy for E-rate stakeholders to search past FCC precedents, which can assist applicants and service providers when drafting their own appeals. This FCC Appeal Decision Database is included as part of the award-winning E-rate Manager service by Funds For Learning.