July 29th News & Tips from USAC/SLD

TIP OF THE WEEK: The Client Service Bureau will only discuss information that is not publicly available on a Form 471 with the contact person or the authorized person identified on that form. If you are not the contact person in Item 6a or the authorized person in Item 40 of the Form 471, be prepared to provide evidence of the Form 471 applicant’s authorization to discuss the form.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011 and 2010

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 7 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 2. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of July 29, FY2011 commitments total over $612 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 60 FCDLs August 3. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 81% and above and denials at 79% and below. As of July 29, FY2010 commitments total over $2.59 billion.

On the day the FCDLs are mailed, you can check to see if you have a commitment by using USAC’s Automated Search of Commitments tool.

Tips for Filing Form 486 Online

In the June 17 SL News Brief we discussed the Form 486, Receipt of Service Confirmation Form. This form notifies USAC that services have started and invoices for those services can be paid. It also indicates that the applicant’s technology plan – if required – has been approved by a USAC-certified Technology Plan Approver and provides the status of compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Many applicants have already received FCDLs for FY2011 and are ready to file their Form 486. Below are some online filing tips for Form 486; note that the first four tips also apply to forms filed on paper. 

Use the information from your FCDL to file your form.

The Billed Entity Number (BEN), funding year, Form 471 application number, and Funding Request Number (FRN) are all associated in USAC’s system. If you enter data on a line in Form 486 Block 3 (Service Information) that is inconsistent with the information associated in our system, you will receive an error message. (If you are filing on paper, you will receive a call from Problem Resolution and you must send us a correction before we can complete the data entry of your form.)

We suggest that you have the FUNDING COMMITMENT REPORT section of your FCDL handy when you are completing your Form 486. If you use the information from that report, you should be able to enter your FRNs in Block 3 of the Form 486 without encountering an error message. 

Include FRNs from different FY2011 Forms 471 on one Form 486.

The Form 486 is specific to a funding year and a Billed Entity. If you filed several FY2011 Forms 471 and you have commitments for FRNs that appeared on more than one of those forms, you can file one Form 486 for FY2011 and list all of the committed FRNs on that one form.

Note, however, that if you have recently received an FCDL for several FRNs from FY2010 and another FCDL for several FRNs from FY2011, you must file two separate Forms 486, one for each funding year.

In Item 5, identify the contact person that should get program letters.

USAC issues certain letters to the contact person in Item 5 of the Form 486. Specifically, USAC will issue both the applicant version of the Form 486 Notification Letter and the Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form Notification Letter to that contact person. Make sure that the contact person you identify on the Form 486 is also the person that should receive those letters.

Complete Item 8 appropriately.

Beginning with FY2011, technology plans are not required for Priority 1 services. Because the technology plan certification on the Form 486 has not yet been updated, applicants filing FY2011 Forms 486 featuring funding requests for Priority 1 services only should complete Block 4, Item 8 of the form as follows:

  • If you are filing online using the Form 486 expert version (see below), check the box next to Item 8, choose “Other” from the dropdown menu, and enter “NONE” in the resulting text box.
  • If you are filing online using the Form 486 interview version (see below), check the box next to Item 8 and click on “I agree,” then choose “Other” from the dropdown menu and click “Go,” then type “NONE” in the resulting text box.
  • If you are filing Form 486 on paper, check the box next to Item 8 and write “NONE” in the space below the Item 8 certification.

Follow these online filing navigation tips.

We suggest that you use Internet Explorer 6.0 or above to file Form 486 online. Other web browsers – such as Safari or Mozilla – may produce inconsistent results.

Here are a few more tips related to online navigation:

  • Clear your Internet cache and temporary Internet files. These may contain data that could replace or add to the data you enter.
  • Allow popups. Many of the warning and error messages that help you through the form are formatted as popups.
  • Enable cookies. This preserves certain information that makes subsequent filings easier and also can help USAC diagnose problems.
  • Use the “Tab” key to move from one field to the next on a page. You can also use your mouse to click in the fields where you want to enter information.
  • Don’t use your browser’s “Forward” and “Back” buttons. Instead, use the navigation buttons in the form.
  • Don’t open multiple tabs in the browser window you are using to file your Form 486. You may encounter difficulties if you do so.
  • Enter your Block 4 certifications before you enter your Block 3 FRN information. After you complete Block 2, the online form navigates to the certifications in Block 4, then to the FRN information in Block 3, Item 7. This allows the system to check your certifications against the category of service for each FRN you enter and give you an error message if appropriate (e.g., if you indicate in Item 11 that CIPA doesn’t apply and then try to enter an Internal Connections FRN). 

For more information and tips on online filing, refer to the Tips and Troubleshooting document posted on the USAC website.

Try the expert version of the online Form 486 if you have trouble with the interview version.

Data you enter in an online Form 486 is saved in USAC’s database and can be accessed through the Apply Online page by both the expert version and the interview version of the form (the “Create Form 486” button and “Form 486 Interview” button respectively). In the expert version, you enter information directly into the form, while the interview version asks you a series of questions and then enters your answers in the appropriate form fields. If you wish, you can start with one version of the form, save your work before you push the Submit button, and later complete the form using the other version.

  • To continue an incomplete form using the expert version, click on the “Continue Incomplete” button in the Form 486 column of the Apply Online page.
  • To continue an incomplete form using the interview version, click on the “Form 486 Interview” button in the Form 486 column of the Apply Online page.
  • Remember that you must have your Form 486 application number and your security code to access an incomplete form. (Tip: Use your browser’s “Print” function to print the page that contains these numbers after you complete Block 1 of the form online using either version.)
  • Note to Mac users: Applicants using a Mac generally have more success with the expert version of the form.

Pay attention to any popups or warning messages that occur.

The online system has built-in popups to notify you of errors and provide certain other helpful information. This allows you to make necessary corrections before you submit your form. The system also populates some information in the form based on information you have already entered.

However, many applicants that file forms on paper fail to provide all necessary entries or include entries that are inconsistent. They must then wait for USAC to contact them because the missing or inconsistent information prevents USAC from completing data entry. Moreover, if USAC cannot reach the applicant to get the correct information, the form may be rejected.

If you are having difficulty with a Form 486 online or on paper, you can Submit a Question or call the Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100 to get help.