News

Aug. 26th Tips and News from USAC

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you use the Form 471 Application Status tool, remember that the status of each form appears at the top of your search results, to the right of its application number and applicant form identifier. For an explanation of a status, refer to the Explanation table below your search results.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011, 2010, and 2009

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 11 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 30. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 26, FY2011 commitments total over $755 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 64 FCDLs August 31. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 81% and above. As of August 26, FY2010 commitments total over $2.59 billion.

Funding Year 2009. USAC will release FY2009 Wave 92 FCDLs August 31. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 77% and above and denials at 76% and below. As of August 26, FY2009 commitments total over $2.86 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.

Update on Fall Applicant Training Sessions

Registration is still open for the training sessions in Minneapolis MN, Portland OR, and Orlando FL. To register for a training session or to get hotel information, go to the Training Sessions and Presentations page on the USAC website.

Remember that you must also make a room reservation if you want to stay at the conference hotel. The table below shows the last day to make a reservation at the negotiated conference room rate. Rooms may not be available – or may be more expensive – if you try to make a reservation after these dates. 

Hotel Deadline for Hotel Reservations
 Renaissance Arlington Capital View  September 5
 Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott  September 21
 Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America  September 19
 Hilton Portland & Executive Tower  September 21
 Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel  September 26
 Sheraton New Orleans Hotel  October 5
 Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel  October 11
 Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport  October 17

 If you have questions or wish to cancel your reservation, please email USAC.

Extending Contracts for Non-recurring Services

In the August 19 SL News Brief, we discussed requesting a service delivery extension for non-recurring services and the importance of requesting the extension no later than the deadline for receipt of those services.

In many cases, contracts must also be extended and the new contract expiration date reported to USAC. This is important because USAC will not pay invoices for eligible non-recurring services delivered or installed after the last day to receive service (the service delivery deadline), or the last day your contract is valid (the contract expiration date), whichever is earlier.

Extending a contract expiration date for non-recurring services

Applicants report the contract expiration date in Item 20b of each funding request on the Form 471. USAC will not pay invoices for products and services installed and/or delivered after the contract expiration date on file with USAC. If a service delivery extension has been approved – either automatically or upon request – applicants and service providers will need to change the contract expiration date on file with USAC if products and services will be delivered after the date currently on file.

Please note: The contract extensions we discuss here are solely for the purpose of completing the delivery of services for commitments on Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) for the original funding year, not for extending the services to a new FRN for an upcoming funding year (see below).

If a contract expires before services will be delivered, applicants should do the following:

  • Check the FRN Extension Table to verify that USAC has extended the service delivery deadline for the FRN.
  • Determine that an extension of the contract is allowed under the terms of the contract and under state and local procurement rules and regulations.
  • If an extension of the contract is allowed, negotiate an extension with the service provider.
  • File a Form 500, Adjustment to Funding Commitment and Modification to Receipt of Service Confirmation Form, to change the contract expiration date on file with USAC.
  • After USAC issues a Form 500 Notification Letter, the products and services can be delivered and installed and USAC can be invoiced.

Note that this kind of contract extension is different from a “contract with voluntary extensions.” A contract with voluntary extensions allows the applicant to extend an existing contract with the service provider and apply for discounts on services in an upcoming funding year without filing a new Form 470 and opening a competitive bidding process for the services covered under that contract. For information on contracts with voluntary extensions, refer to the Contract Guidance document on the USAC website.

Tips for funding commitments that include non-recurring services

To make this process easier, consider the following:

  • If possible, set your contract to expire on September 30 rather than June 30 if the contract contains non-recurring services. This eliminates the need to file a Form 500 if the work will be completed by the original deadline.
  • Communicate regularly with your service provider, especially if there may be delays. Knowing early that a problem exists gives you more time to plan for the best solution.
  • An approved service delivery deadline extension does not automatically extend a contract or change the contract expiration date on file with USAC. Similarly, a Form 500, which you would use to change the contract expiration date on file with USAC, does not act as a service delivery extension request or extend the service delivery deadline.
  • Act promptly if you need to extend a contract or request a deadline extension. USAC receives a higher volume of requests when deadlines approach and it may take longer for USAC to process your request if you wait until the last minute.
  • Remember that USAC cannot act on a service delivery extension request filed after the last date to receive service, which is generally September 30. 
 

FCC Authorizes Additional Funds for FY2010 and FY2011

August 23, 2011

On August 22, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued Order DA 11-1354. This order directs USAC to begin making funding commitments for FY2010 Priority 2 services at the 80% discount level and to use funds from reserve accounts to fund eligible FY2010 Priority 2 requests at all discount levels.

USAC has already started the review of FY2010 Priority 2 services at the 80% discount level, and so should be able to start making commitments on approved requests as soon as possible. FY2010 Priority 2 requests at the 79% discount level and below that have been denied for insufficient funding will be returned to the PIA review process. No additional action is required at this time on the part of applicants with funding requests below 80%. PIA reviewers will be in touch with these applicants once they begin the review of these applications.

In addition, the FCC has directed USAC to roll over $850 million of unused funds to FY2011. At this time, we cannot determine the exact discount level we will be able to reach for Priority 2 requests for FY2011. We will of course provide updates as we are able to do so.

Again, no special action is required on the part of FY2010 applicants for Priority 2 requests at 79% and below that have already been denied. However, these applicants should be sure to monitor the preferred mode of contact they indicated on their Forms 471 and respond promptly to PIA requests for information.

 

USAC/SLD News & Tips from Aug.19, 2011

TIP OF THE WEEK: If you have non-recurring services that will not be delivered and installed on or before September 30, you can request a service delivery deadline extension for those services. However, USAC cannot consider your request if it is submitted after September 30 (see below).

Commitments for Funding Years 2011, 2010, and 2009

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 10 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 23. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 19, FY2011 commitments total over $712 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 63 FCDLs August 25. 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 August 19, FY2010 commitments total over $2.59 billion.

Funding Year 2009. USAC will release FY2009 Wave 91 FCDLs August 22. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 requests at 77% and above and denials at 76% and below. As of August 19, FY2009 commitments total over $2.86 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.

Update on Fall Applicant Training Sessions

Registration for five of the fall applicant training sessions – Washington DC, Newark NJ, St. Louis MO, New Orleans LA, and Los Angeles CA – has closed. If you would like to attend training, you should register as soon as possible for one of the sessions that is still open. To register for a training session or to get hotel information, go to the Training Sessions and Presentations page on the USAC website.

Remember that you must also make a room reservation if you want to stay at the conference hotel. The table below shows the last day to make a reservation at the negotiated conference room rate. Rooms may not be available – or may be more expensive – if you try to make a reservation after these dates. 

Hotel Deadline for Hotel Reservations
 Renaissance Arlington Capital View  September 5
 Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott  September 21
 Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America  September 19
 Hilton Portland & Executive Tower  September 21
 Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel  September 26
 Sheraton New Orleans Hotel  October 5
 Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel  October 11
 Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport  October 17

 

If you have questions or wish to cancel your reservation, please email USAC.

Non-recurring Services and Contracts

Services eligible for E-Rate discounts are classified as either recurring or non-recurring.

Recurring services, such as monthly telephone services or Internet access:

  • Are usually delivered continuously during all or part of the funding year.
  • End no later than June 30, the last day of the funding year.
  • Are reported in Items 23A – 23E of a Form 471 Block 5 funding request.
  • NOTE: Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections is considered a recurring service. This is true even if the applicant makes a single payment for these services.

Non-recurring services, such as installation of telephone service, cabling and wiring for Internet access, and Internal Connections equipment:

  • Are usually delivered and installed once or at specific times.
  • End no later than September 30 following the funding year, although this deadline can be extended.
  • Are reported in Items 23F – 23H of a Form 471 Block 5 funding request.
  • NOTE: If you are making monthly payments to purchase equipment, you should NOT report those costs as recurring services. Doing so will set your last date to receive services as June 30 without the possibility of an extension. If you have reported monthly costs for what is truly a non-recurring service, be sure to correct your Form 471 before USAC issues an FCDL with a commitment for that service.

The additional three-month period (July 1 – September 30) for the delivery and installation of non-recurring services enables work to be completed during the summer when schools are not in session. However, many applicants and service providers sign contracts for non-recurring services that expire on June 30 even though it is possible for those services to be delivered and installed after that date.

  • Note that USAC will not pay invoices for eligible non-recurring services delivered or installed after the last day to receive service (the service delivery deadline), or the last day your contract is valid (the contract expiration date), whichever is earlier.

If additional time is needed for the installation or delivery of non-recurring services, the applicant most likely will need to complete two separate processes:

  1. File a service delivery extension request to extend the service delivery deadline.
  2. Extend the existing contract with the service provider and then file a Form 500 to notify USAC of the extended contract expiration date.

We will discuss service delivery extension requests this week and contract extensions in a later SL News Brief.

Requesting a service delivery deadline extension for non-recurring services

In general, non-recurring services must be delivered and installed on or before the September 30 following the close of the funding year. In some situations, the service delivery deadline can be extended for an additional year. These extensions can occur either automatically or upon request, and a Funding Request Number (FRN) may receive more than one extension.

A one-year extension of the September 30 deadline occurs automatically if:

A one-year extension of the September 30 deadline can be requested if:

  • The applicant submits documentation to USAC on or before the service delivery deadline that the service provider was unable to complete delivery and installation for reasons beyond the service provider’s control, or
  • The applicant certifies to USAC on or before the service delivery deadline that the service provider has been unwilling to complete delivery after USAC withheld payment for those products and services on a properly submitted invoice for more than 60 days after submission of the invoice.

Applicants can request an extension by following the guidance in the Service Delivery Deadlines and Extension Requests document on the USAC website. If an applicant requests a service delivery extension, USAC will review the information submitted and, if appropriate, approve the extension.

  • USAC cannot consider service delivery extension requests submitted or postmarked after the service delivery deadline on record for the FRN, which is generally September 30 following the close of the funding year.

In a future SL News Brief we will discuss extending the contract and reporting the new contract expiration date to USAC.

 

FCC’s New Ruling on Multi-tiered Bid Evaluation Processes

Please note the section on pages 7 and 8 regarding the FCC’s new ruling on multi-tiered bid evaluation processes.  This will almost certainly be reflected in SLD rules changes – both on their web site and in review rules.  You might also want to read the Discussion section starting on page 5 to get some additional context.

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-11-1368A1.pdf

 

USAC News and Tips from Aug. 12, 2011

TIP OF THE WEEK: SERVICE PROVIDERS: File your Forms 473 for FY2010 and FY2011 if you have not already done so. Remember that USAC will not pay invoices (BEAR Forms 472 and SPI Forms 474) for a funding year if we do not have a Form 473 on file for that funding year.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011 and 2010

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 9 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) August 16. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of August 12, FY2011 commitments total over $662 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 62 FCDLs August 17. 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 August 12, 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.

Update on HATS

USAC’s Helping Applicants To Succeed (HATS) outreach initiative has provided targeted guidance through personal visits to program participants for over five years. This is the third year the outreach initiative has been conducted solely by HATS specialists on the USAC staff.

HATS provides assistance in a variety of different ways throughout the year. Along with our customized individual trainings, also known as “HATS visits,” we also conduct outreach via blast emails and telephone calls.

The emails and phone calls focus on specific areas where applicants have had difficulties in the past. Program areas covered in the email and call outreach include, but are not limited to: Form 470/471 deadline reminders, Item 21 filing reminders, Form 486 reminders, and the importance of document retention. USAC runs queries of our application database to determine which applicants may benefit from such outreach.

USAC also contacts applicants that are new to the program or have experienced one or more difficulties and offers to conduct a HATS visit for them. Experienced applicants in need of a refresher may find a HATS visit beneficial. Both new and experienced applicants can volunteer for a visit. Each training session is customized and is based on your experience level.

During a HATS visit, the HATS specialist provides training targeted to your specific needs based on our review of your entity’s application history and any questions you send to us in advance. USAC conducts HATS visits in person and also by telephone or videoconference, and there is no charge for a visit.

Areas covered on a visit can include one or more of the following:

  • A discussion of specific difficulties or concerns identified by the applicant.
  • Identification of any outstanding issues and the steps available to correct them.
  • A demonstration of the search tools and other information available on the USAC website.
  • An opportunity to provide feedback on USAC’s outreach efforts – such as the website, SL News Briefs, Tip Sheets, and spring and fall training sessions – and to make suggestions for other possible kinds of outreach or program improvements.
  • A general discussion of program requirements that covers each of the subject areas listed below. Your HATS specialist can spend more time on the areas where you have questions or need help and spend less time on – or skip – the areas you are familiar with.

 

SUBJECT AREAS
 Form requirements and deadlines
 Competitive bidding
 Technology planning
 Calculating your discount level
 Understanding USAC’s decision letters
 Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliance
 Documenting receipt of services
 Invoicing
 Retaining required program documentation

 

HATS visits are not compliance visits or audits. Advance preparation is generally limited to compiling a list of questions and/or identifying specific problems you would like to discuss, along with any related documents.

If you would like to volunteer for a HATS visit, you can call the Client Service Bureau (CSB) at 1-888-203-8100. CSB will ask you for the following information and then forward your responses to USAC for consideration:

  • Contact person name
  • Contact person phone number
  • Contact person email address
  • Name of the person who completes the application paperwork (if different from contact person above)
  • Billed Entity Name (or names if you apply for more than one Billed Entity)
  • Billed Entity Number (or numbers if you apply for more than one Billed Entity)
  • Brief reason(s) for the HATS visit request – for example, if you are new to the program or are having a specific problem with one or more program requirements.

If you are selected for a HATS visit, someone from USAC will contact you to arrange the details of the visit. Please note that response times can vary depending on the volume of requests received.

For more information, refer to the HATS area of the USAC website.

 
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