On December 22, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2011 which combines the remaining appropriations bill into a combined piece of legislation in order to keep the federal government running for the upcoming fiscal year. Included in the bill is an amendment that continues to exempt Universal Service from the Anti-Deficiency Act. The education community would have preferred to see a permanent exemption, however this temporary fix was necessary in order for E-rate commitments to continue to flow this year.
In 2004 the FCC directed USAC to convert its accounting standards and thus would be required to start treating approved commitments as obligations, rather than when an invoice was presented for payment. Under the new accounting rules, USAC must actually have the money from telecommunications carriers in hand before it can issue a commitment.
Each year since 2004, Congress has exempted the program from the Anti-Deficiency Act in order for USAC to be able to release funding waves at a much faster rate and notify stakeholders whether or not their projects will receive E-rate support.