Happy Back-To-School, E-raters!
August 20, 2015
I hope everyone had a wonderful summer! While you’ve been relaxing (hopefully), much has been happening in the E-rate world. Below is an update on several E-rate current topics.
Pace of FY 2015 Funding Commitment Letters – So far, about 66% of PA’s Category 1 applications have been funded, and 55% of Category 2 applications have been funded. I realize this is frustrating for those applicants that haven’t been funded yet, but I can tell you that USAC assures us that all workable applications will be funded by the end of September (2015). If you were contacted by a PIA reviewer and still haven’t received your FCDL, e-mail the reviewer again and make sure they’re still working on your application — it often helps to push a little!
Send Me Category 2 Pictures! – For those of you fortunate enough to have received your Category 2 equipment, please don’t forget to take a few pictures of you (or your teachers) with the equipment and e-mail them to me. If you can hold up a sign that says something like, “Thanks, FCC” or “E-rate Did This!” or anything that expresses your appreciation, that would be wonderful! My intent is to compile the pictures in a photobook and present it to FCC Chairman Wheeler and key FCC staff to show our appreciation for making these projects possible in Pennsylvania’s schools and libraries. I hope you will join me in this little project. So far I’ve receive a small handful of pictures and they are fantastic!
Category 2 Equipment Labeling/Tracking Reminder - After your C2 equipment arrives, it’s extremely important that you label your equipment with “FY 2015, FRN # XXX” because future E-rate audits will require such documentation to be provided/shown. In addition, you must record each piece of equipment in your school’s Asset (Inventory) Register or create your own E-rate Asset Register (recommended). The Asset Register should contain the following information: Make & model, serial number (if available), physical location of equipment (building and room number), date installed, Funding Year 2015 and FRN #, and Purchase Order #. Attached to this message is the USAC Sample Asset Inventory Worksheet in an Excel file. You can see that it shows more than is required, but I think it’s very helpful to maintain such a detailed record of the payments and POs so that you can easily show this to the auditors.
Do You Have Your EPC Account Created Yet? Has your Account Administrator created their E-rate EPC Portal Account yet? AAs are defined as the person who signed your FY 2015 Form 471. If they haven’t done so yet, have them to go: https://portal.usac.org/suite/ and click on “Forgot Password” to create their password and log-in to the account (guide: http://e-ratepa.org/?p=8331). From there, the AA can create “users” and add an E-rate consultant, if one is used (guide: http://e-ratepa.org/?p=8451). Two reminders, 1) If an AA is associated with two or more applicant accounts, different email addresses must be used for each account. 2) If an IU applies for E-rate funding for itself and a consortium, they will be required to have two different billed entity numbers (BENs), each linked to a different EPIC portal account (meaning two different e-mail addresses). Call CSB at 888-203-8100 if you’re having trouble logging in or need to set up a new Billed Entity Number.
FY 2016 Form 470 Available - The FY 2016 Form 470 is now available for submission, but it can only be done after logging into your EPC Portal. If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to make sure you have an EPC Portal account so that you are ready to post your Form 470 this fall. When you see the Form 470, you’ll notice it’s much different than in previous years. I’ll be conducting training this fall to demonstrate the new Form 470, but if would like help immediately, please refer to these two USAC documents: http://www.usac.org/_res/documents/sl/pdf/e-rate-productivity-center/Filing-FCC-Form-470.pdf and http://usac.org/sl/tools/news-briefs/preview.aspx?id=636.
FY 2015 Data Clean-Up E-mails – Some of you have recently received or will be receiving e-mails from USAC asking questions about certain pieces of data on your Category 1 Form 471 – even for FRNs that have previously been funded. This outreach effort is entirely separate from your normal PIA review. The purpose of these messages is to ask clarifying questions related to your Form 471s so the FCC can begin to compare, analyze and display pricing of eligible services information in an apples-to-apples format. The e-mails began to be sent about 2 weeks ago and should be finished by mid-September. Applicants are requested to reply to USAC within 5 days.
FY 2014 BEARs due October 28, 2015 – For those applicants that did NOT receive discounted bills during FY 2014, the official deadline to submit the Form 472 BEAR to collect reimbursement funding is October 28, 2015. All BEARs must be submitted by the deadline and late-filed BEARs will be denied. Invoice (BEAR) deadline extensions will be granted for a single 120 day period IF the requests are submitted before the October 28 deadline. After that, you must submit a waiver request with the FCC and have a truly significant reason for missing the deadline. For a list of applicants that need to submit BEARs, or for help submitting the BEAR, see http://e-ratepa.org/?p=8241.
FY 2015 Form 486s – If you HAVE been funded for FY 2015, 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 early October. If you have NOT yet been funded for FY 2015, you can’t file the Form 486 until you receive your FCDL.
Eligibility of Purchased Fiber for FY 2016 – Beginning in FY 2016, the purchase/ownership of fiber is now E-rate eligible if the applicant can show that it is the most cost effective option. Applicants must issue a detailed RFP along with a Form 470, seeking bids for both lit fiber service and self-provisioned fiber (unless the applicant already posted a Form 470 for broadband services for this same funding year and received no service provider bids). RFPs must provide service providers with specific details and descriptions of the services needed and exact locations to be served. Applicants must compare the cost of lit fiber service to the ‘total cost of ownership’ over the life of the facility for self-construction option, including all aspects of installing, operating and maintaining the network facilities. If you are considering a self-provisioned fiber project, please e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to express your interest and describe your project. USAC and the FCC are trying to identify all potential self-provisioned fiber projects so they can provide special one-on-one attention to those applicants as early as possible to ensure their projects are E-rate compliant.
If you have any questions on any of these topics, please e-mail me at email@example.com!
Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator