If you have seen your latest Remittance Notice Email, BEAR Notification Letter or wired disbursement from USAC, you may be noticing things are a bit different or not all there. Not to worry. It is by design and shouldn’t leave you scratching your head too long.
This past week kicked off the new USAC “Streamlined BEAR Review Process”. Its design is to process BEAR Form payments faster, more often, but not necessarily in their entirety. This new streamlined process will take a line by line approach, where they will process some lines immediately or after a low-level review and hold others that may require a closer look or service certification.
In issuing partial payments on your BEAR Forms, Applicants and their Service Provider will receive a new BEAR Notification Letter (BNL) each time a Line or group of Line Items get processed. The overall status of your BEAR Form will remain in a “Passed Validation” or In USAC Review status; however, processed line items will be flipped to “Completed”.
To help account for each partial disbursement, USAC revised the BNL into three parts with two new features:
- First Page – Summary of Totals,
- Second Page – Line Summary Table, and
- Subsequent pages containing the line details reviewed and process in the report.
- These final pages will have the same look and feel as the previous BNL version.
The first page of the new BNL will contain four totals designed to help you know where your form is in the overall process. These are best summarized as:
- Current Payment – amount issued with this letter
- Current Adjustments/Denials – amount of reductions issued with this letter
- Total Payments to date – amount of all issued payments for the BEAR Form
- Payments Pending – amount of line items still under review
The new second page – Line Summary Table will help in breaking down the status of each line item built into the BEAR. In their previously issued SLD Weekly News Brief, the following table was presented as an example of what applicants will see:
The main aspects to note from this table are the Dollars paid, the Status and the Decision code(s). An amount in the Dollars column tells you what was paid on that particular line item, the payment processing date will be listed in the Status column as “Sent to USAC mm/dd/yyyy" and a Decision code1 will be listed to highlight any adverse action taken. Obviously, any lines still undecided will be reflected as “In Process”.
Altogether, applicants should expect to see funds faster when they invoice USAC. There will be a little more accounting involved, but hopefully the new features will help you account for each authorized disbursement. If not, please consider reaching out to Funds For Learning to help guide you through the E-rate Process.