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The E-rate Program Stifled by Shutdown

The new fiscal year for the federal government commenced October 1, 2013 and runs through September 30, 2014.  However, because the United States Congress did not pass a budget to keep the various federal agencies open, government employees are being furloughed until a budget to fund these agencies is passed.  
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a plan in the event of this scenario. Only about 5% of the staff will remain working during the shutdown which means that personnel that work on E-rate issues will be furloughed.  During this time, the FCC will not receive any reply comments to the current E-rate Modernization NPRM.  If the government wide shutdown extends past October 16, the deadline for NPRM reply comments will automatically be extended – (In any event, the FCC, at its discretion, may extend the NPRM reply comment deadline because of the shutdown.) Other work at the FCC, such as the release of the 2014 Eligible Services List, and the processing of appeals, will also come to a halt during this time.
Fortunately, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is not funded through the appropriations process. USAC employees and their contractors will be able to continue to work, reviewing Form 471 applications, releasing funding commitments, and processing E-rate payment paperwork as they typically do.
Hopefully this government shutdown will be resolved soon so that the FCC can return to the important work of reforming and modernizing the E-rate program in time for FY 2014. 
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