Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Navigating Communication Glitches in the EPC System’s Invoice Portal

The E-rate Program, administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), provides essential funding for schools and libraries to obtain affordable broadband and telecommunications services. However, like any complex system, the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) can sometimes experience technical glitches that impede smooth communication and processing. One such issue has recently come to our attention, specifically within the new Invoice Portal section of EPC.

The Issue

Several users have reported a glitch that occurs when responding to a reviewer’s inquiry within the Invoice Portal. When a response is sent, the request is automatically closed, preventing further communication between the applicant (or service provider) and the reviewer. To reopen the communication, users must submit a Customer Service Bureau (CSB) ticket and wait for the request to be manually reopened. This process can cause delays, especially when dealing with tight deadlines.

Why This Matters

Effective communication is crucial for the timely processing of any E-rate requests. Communication with a reviewer about an active inquiry does not always include the final response or documentation. This glitch can be particularly challenging in situations where:

  • An applicant is in the middle of asking questions or providing information/clarification
  • A service provider is submitting documents under the same inquiry
  • An applicant would like to request additional time to provide the requested information

With shorter due dates, the inability to quickly and effectively communicate with reviewers can lead to unnecessary delays and added frustration for all parties involved.

What to Do if You Encounter This Issue

If you experience this glitch, here are some steps you can take to manage the situation:

  1. Document the Issue:
    • Take screenshots of the communication thread and the error message or closed request status.
    • Note the date and time the issue occurred.
  2. Submit a CSB Ticket:
    • Go to the CSB section of the EPC system and submit a ticket detailing the problem. Include the screenshots and any other relevant information.
    • Clearly explain that the request was closed automatically upon responding to the reviewer’s inquiry.
  3. Follow Up:
    • Monitor the status of your CSB ticket and follow up if you don’t receive a timely response.
    • Keep track of any additional issues that arise and update your ticket accordingly.
  4. Communicate with Your Service Provider:
    • Inform your service provider about the glitch and any potential delays. This will help them stay in the loop and adjust their expectations accordingly.
  5. Plan Ahead:
    • Given the potential for delays, try to complete your responses and document submissions well before the deadlines. This will give you extra time to resolve any unexpected issues.

Looking Ahead

While USAC works to address and resolve these technical issues, it’s essential for E-rate stakeholders to be proactive and prepared. By documenting issues, communicating effectively, and planning ahead, you can minimize the impact of such glitches on your E-rate funding process.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Customer Service Bureau. Stay informed and stay connected to ensure a smooth and successful E-rate application experience.

question icon

We’re here to help!

Our mission is to provide high-quality consulting and support services for the needs of E-rate program participants. We consult with applicants to help them understand, effectively utilize, and maintain compliance with E-rate rules and regulations. We help prepare and submit paperwork, and interact with program administrators on our clients’ behalf.

Request a Consultation