January 2014 E-rate Update
January 12, 2014
Happy New Year, E-raters! I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an E-rate update on several pending issues:
FY 2014 Form 471 Application Window Is Open – The Funding Year 2014 E-rate Form 471 filing window opened on January 9 and will close on March 26. Sixteen PA entities have already submitted applications (second highest in the nation behind TX) – Congratulations!!!
For those of you that filed your Form 470 more than 29 days ago and have conducted your bid evaluations, signed contracts (and obtained board approval, if required) if not using month-to-month services — or those of you with multi-year contracts — you may file your Form 471 application and complete your Item 21 attachments. What changed on the new 471? The new form removed Block 2 (the inventory/assessment chart), with several additional questions in Block 5 related to broadband. If your funding request is for broadband or other types of connectivity (this includes cellular data and mobile broadband services), you must complete the data-gathering chart in item (a), as well as questions (b) and (c). If your Block 5 is NOT for broadband services, you may check a box and then skip the questions. Question (a) asks the type of connection (fiber, cable, etc), # of lines, and download speed. Question (b) asks what percentage of the classrooms/public library spaces have wired and wireless Internet access. Question (c) is for consortia applications, and asks if the connections in this FRN include the last mile connection to the school or library, and if not, are these just backbone connections. We are still seeking clarifications from the FCC on some of the questions and I’ll send a specific e-mail related to the new Item 24 shortly.
File your 470 NOW – There are still 116 public school districts that haven’t filed 470′s for FY 2014 (a much longer list than in previous years at this same time). If you are on this list, please file your 470 and get your 28-day clock ticking. The only significant change on the new 470 (released Dec 19), is that they combined the telecom and internet categories into a single Priority 1 category so applicants won’t have to guess which bucket to choose (you’ll still have to select the correct category on the Form 471).
NSLP Data – The October 2013 NSLP Data should be available around January 17. As soon as I receive it, I’ll send it to the listserve.
FY 2013 Funding Commitments – Although USAC has processed 84% of PA’s FY 2013 funding requests, I know that many of you still haven’t received your FCDL. Please know that we have expressed our concerns to USAC about the delays this year. If you haven’t heard from PIA and are anxious to get your application reviewed, please contact me with your entity’s name, billed entity number, Form 471 number, and confirmation of whether you have received any communication from PIA and I will discuss it with the PIA Regional Manager.
E-rate Reform – The FCC is currently reviewing the submitted comments and may have an Order released before May with some E-rate modifications. It’s unknown at this time what those reforms will entail, but as the process moves forward, I will keep you posted.
PQA E-rate Audits: Several PA schools and libraries received notices of a Payment Quality Assurance audit (PQA) last week which is designed to gather specific information from applicants in order to calculate the rate of improper payments, a requirement under the Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA). A total of 60 applicants are randomly selected each month for the PQA audit, although it appears that applicants with higher-dollar disbursements stand a greater likelihood of being chosen. The PQA request is sent to the entity’s contact person from the e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Although they are not technically called ‘audits,’ that’s what they are because if an improper payment is discovered, USAC will then recover those funds. If you are selected for a PQA audit, please let me know and I can help to answer any questions you may have. They look daunting, but most applicants find that the information is very easy to compile.
PEPPM Will Not Be E-rate Eligible Beginning in FY 2014 – For several reasons directly related to new E-rate rules and interpretations, the PEPPM contract will not be eligible for use beginning in Funding Year 2014. Therefore, schools and libraries that want to apply for Priority 2 funding for FY 2014 must post their own Form 470s (using the words “or equivalent”), simultaneously bid in local newspapers, evaluate all vendor proposals received (including equivalent equipment bids), obtain board approval (pending E-rate funding), and sign a contract with the awarded vendor — all before the Form 471 is filed in March. Be sure to build-in extra time to complete these tasks.
FY 2013 Form 486s – If you have been funded for FY 2013, please don’t forget to file your Form 486 to ‘turn-on’ funding with USAC. I will send a list of applicants with 486 due dates in a few weeks. If you have NOT yet been funded for FY 2013, you can’t file the Form 486 until you receive your FCDL.
If you have any questions about any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o
717-730-9060 – f