New to the Form 470 and Form 471 this year is a fifth option for the Applicant Type field: Statewide Application. But did anyone actually use it?
Not according to the SLD’s Funding Request data, available via their Data Retrieval Tool. Of the 125,469 Funding Requests available at the time of this writing, none of them use the Statewide Application category.
Where are the statewide Form 471 applications? One possibility is that the SLD simply hasn’t updated their Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) yet to incorporate Statewide applications. When using the DRT, users can select the Type of 471 Application, such as school, or consortium. Statewide currently isn’t even listed as an option in the DRT. So it’s certainly possible that the DRT is just hiding these funding requests until the SLD gets around to updating their tool to properly query their database.
Another possible explanation is that none were filed. If so, it might be because no one was able to file them. During the filing window this year, users discovered that the SLD’s online Form 471 had difficulty accepting certain combinations of applicant types and discount calculation worksheets. In fact, we know of one instance in which a statewide application could not be filed because of what appears to be programming errors on the USAC site. Indeed, for the handful of applicants who did file a Statewide Form 470, most selected Consortium as the Applicant Type on their Forms 471. My guess is that they ran into the same errors.
That begs the question: Do we even need a fifth Applicant Type? Of the 35,067 Forms 470 filed this funding year, only 47 were Statewide. It doesn’t seem likely that the applicant type (i.e. consortium versus statewide) will impact the responses from potential bidders? Plus, doesn’t having more applicant types just make the process even more confusing and error prone for everyone? When USAC doesn’t even seem to pay attention to this option, why should anyone else?
*** UPDATE ***
April 7, 2011
Since publishing this article yesterday, the SLD’s Data Retrieval Tool now shows exactly one Statewide Funding Request for 2011.