This week I had the opportunity to attend the USAC 2011 Service Provider Spring Training and am pleased to see the progress the administrator of the program has made to reach out to program participants. Each year USAC has increased its effort to improve awareness and provide program guidance to participants. This outreach is to both applicants and service providers. Outreach and training is done each year at various cities across the nation, offering training in the fall for applicants and in the spring for service providers. Either party is welcome at both the spring and fall trainings. In addition to applicants and service providers, consultants are frequently heavy in attendance. For Funding Year 2011, consultants represented approximately 35% of all applications filed.
Outreach is also performed by USAC through its Helping Applicants to Succeed (HATS) program. This effort is conducted by the Schools and Libraries Division of USAC with outreach efforts such as an in-person visit to the school, emails and conference calls. Many schools have received a phone call from USAC offering a HATS visit and are often hesitant to accept the offer. This is most frequently due to lack of awareness of the program or skepticism of the purpose. The program intentions are truly to help applicants succeed and I would encourage those schools without consultants to consider this option.
What is most impressive about the outreach efforts over the past few years is that USAC has also dropped its administrative expenses. This drop in expense is primarily due to the reduction in outside agency audits. From 2009 to 2010 USAC expenses dropped $80 million. USAC is now conducting these audits in house. The net result of USAC efforts is better program compliance and more funds available for commitment to schools and libraries.
I commend USAC for contributing the time and resources to training participants and helping all participants to succeed.