While the FCC has been willing to grant appeals when certain mistakes are made in the application process, the FCC is unwilling to grant appeals where deadlines are missed to file an appeal. The FCC notified 104 applicants that their appeals for waiver of the 60 day appeal deadline rule were denied. The FCC can waive their own rules when special circumstances arise, however, the FCC made clear that misunderstanding of this particular deadline or staff turnover does not rise to the level where the FCC will grant a waiver when an applicant misses the appeal deadline.
In the appeal decision the FCC stated:
“…Filing deadlines for appeals are needed to provide finality in the decision-making process. Because the E-rate program has a cap of $2.25 billion each year, USAC and the Commission must accurately determine the number of funding requests that will be able to be granted in any given year. While USAC maintains a reserve fund for appeals, the amount of money reserved in that fund is generally based on the appeals that can be filed within the 60-day deadline. If the Commission allowed applicants to appeal decisions significantly after the deadline, it would be difficult to estimate the amount of money that should be held in the reserve fund. The reserve fund could be increased; however, that funding would have to come from the same $2.25 billion allocated for the program and would therefore effectively take money away from applicants that had followed the rules or timely filed appeals….and that financial need does not meet the requirement of special circumstances that warrant a waiver of the Commission’s rules….”
The full appeal decision can be viewed here.