USAC’s Schools and Libraries Division hosts monthly conference calls, providing information and guidance for service providers participating in E-rate. The monthly call for January was held on the 5th. Here is a brief synopsis of the call.
Since the December call, USAC approved seven funding waves for FY09 and FY10. For FY2009, USAC is denying Priority 2 funding requests at 76% and below and funding approved requests at 77% and above. The funding threshold is likely to remain at this level for the duration of the FY09 requests.
At the time of the call, USAC issued FY09 waves 75 on 12/08 for $9.7M, 76 on 12/22 for $6.4M and 77 on 12/29 for $.58M.
For Funding Year 2010, USAC is currently approving P2 requests at 81% and above. For Funding Year 2010, USAC issued waves 29 on 12/07 for $25.3M, 30 on 12/14 for $30M, 31 on 12/21 for $75.6M, and 32 on 12/28 for $85.6M.
FY 2011 Filing Window
The filing window for Funding Year 2011 will open at Noon EST on January 11th and will close at 11:59 pm EDT on March 24th. The window will be open 73 days.
The weekend before the opening of the window (Jan 7-9), the old Forms 470 and 471 will be taken off of the SLD site. The new Forms 470 and 471 should be available in electronic form by Sunday, January 9th by 5:00pm EST.
Public Notices DA 10-2355 and DA 10-2356
On December 15th, the FCC simultaneously released Public Notices DA 10-2355 and DA 10-2356.
Public Notice DA 10-2355 clarifies the some of the new rules and offers further guidance on fixed price contracts for basic maintenance services as well as the new gift giving regulations.
Public Notice DA 10-2356 specifies the effective dates of different parts of the Sixth Report and Order. It also provides FAQs on Dark Fiber, SPIN Changes and Technology Plans.
More information on the Public Notices can be found here.
Red Light System
The Red Light System is updated and back to standard operations. If you have any specific questions regarding the red light system or payments you have made to USAC, you may call 1?877-480-3201.
New Integrity Safeguard for Service Providers
During the USAC Service Provider Conference Call on January 5, 2011, USAC announced the beginning of a new program integrity safeguard to help ensure correct payments on service provider SPI Forms.
Effective immediately, Service Providers can expect to receive random requests from the SLD for copies of customer invoices. The invoices in question will be invoices listed, and subsequently paid, on a service provider SPI forms.
During the last service provider call there was a discussion concerning talking to applicants before and during the [procurement] process. The FCC stated: “Some commenters challenged the statement in the NPRM that “[a] service provider may provide information to an applicant about products or services – including demonstrations – before the applicant posts the FCC Form 470, but not during the bid selection process.” They argue that applicants need vendor information during the bid selection process in order to make the best decision about the services they are requesting. We agree with these commenters and note that, currently, service providers are permitted to supply information about their products and services during the 28-day waiting period…. Thus, we clarify that we do not prohibit communications during the 28-day waiting period as long as all parties are privy to the same information from the applicant during that period and the communications are consistent with any applicable state or local competitive bidding requirements.” 6th Report and Order, Pg. 42. Does the SLD support this statement?
Yes, the SLD supports this statement and will support the changes outlined in the Sixth Report and Order.
During the Christmas holiday season, a service provider provides a $60 gift basket of edible fruit and candy to an entire school staff rather than to any particular individual. In the future, the service provider intends to include a notation that no one individual should take more than a quarter of the contents in order to stay in compliance with E-rate gift rules. Does this approach violate any provision of the new rules?
Service Providers do not need to go this extreme with gifts that are directed to a large, ambiguous group of school employees, unless the gift could potentially influence the individuals in charge of procurement decisions. Service providers should use their best judgment and use caution to avoid any appearances of impropriety with gifts that could be seen as unfairly influencing the competitive bidding process.
With regard to submitting the item 21 by the 471 deadline, can the item 21 be mailed? The problem is you can’t use the item 21 tool until the item 21 is submitted and contract signed but it takes time to prepare the item 21. With mail submission you can have item 21s prepared in advance.
The only difference with the Item 21 and Item 21submission is the deadline. Items 21 must be submitted before the close of the window.
The next call will be in February 2, 2011.
The above information is not the official minutes from the call, but simply notes from a call participant. The official minutes for the December 1st call, as well as call minutes from previous months, can be found here.
Let Funds For Learning be your E-rate guide in 2011. Continue to check www.fundsforlearning.com for the latest updates and E-rate news.