This week’s USAC News & Tips – 9/9/2011

TIP OF THE WEEK: The summer deferral period for application review ends today (see below). If USAC put the review of your form on hold because we were unable to reach you during the summer, be prepared to receive and answer questions from your PIA reviewer if you are contacted.

Commitments for Funding Years 2011 and 2010

Funding Year 2011. USAC will release FY2011 Wave 13 Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) September 13. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 1 (Telecommunications Services and Internet Access) requests at all discount levels. As of September 9, FY2011 commitments total just under $826 million.

Funding Year 2010. USAC will release FY2010 Wave 66 FCDLs September 14. This wave includes commitments for approved Priority 2 (Internal Connections and Basic Maintenance) requests at 81% and above. As of September 9, 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.

SL News Brief Starts Its Seventh Year

Welcome to the seventh year of the Schools and Libraries News Brief. We will continue to provide you with up-to-the-minute news on developments in the Schools and Libraries program along with guidance materials that will help both applicants and service providers through the application process.

We email SL News Briefs to subscribers on Fridays. If you are not receiving your own copy of the News Brief, we encourage you to subscribe. You can view previous issues by topic or by date on the Schools and Libraries News Brief page, and print a copy of any issue you missed.

Fall Training Update

Registration for all eight training sessions has closed. To get hotel information, go to the Training Sessions and Presentations page on the USAC website.

Remember that you must 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  CLOSED
 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.

Summer Contact Procedure Ends Today

USAC has procedures to contact applicants and service providers if more information is necessary to process or review a form. We realize that, during a summer period and a winter period each year, many applicants are unavailable due to extended holiday and break schedules.

If USAC was unable to contact you during the summer deferral period, we put your form on hold and will resume our attempts to contact you starting Monday.

  • Our summer deferral period is defined as the Friday before Memorial Day through the Friday after Labor Day. For 2011, the dates of the summer period were May 27 through September 9.

In general, there are two situations when USAC requests additional information:

  • Problem Resolution. If USAC cannot data enter a paper form because information is missing or inconsistent, Problem Resolution will attempt to reach the contact person listed on the form (or in our database, if no contact information is provided on the form) to obtain the necessary information.
  • Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review. If USAC needs more information from an applicant to complete the review of an application, a PIA initial reviewer will use the contact information provided on the form both to send questions and to inform the applicant of any correctable errors discovered on the form during review.

In these situations, USAC’s customary procedure is as follows:

  • USAC uses your preferred mode of contact to send you questions and to request responses. For PIA review, if your preferred mode of contact is telephone, we will call you and request an email address or fax number in order to provide you with our questions in writing.
  • If we have not heard from you after seven days from our first attempt to contact you, we will attempt to contact you again and we will also inform your state E-Rate coordinator that we are attempting to contact you.
  • If we have not heard from you after 15 days from our first attempt to contact you, we will use the information we have to complete processing of your application. For a paper form, this may mean that we will have to return the form to you without completing data entry. For a Form 471, this may mean that the funding you requested will be reduced or denied.

If our first attempt to reach you was on or after May 27, and we could not confirm by telephone that you were available to respond to our questions, we will resume Problem Resolution or PIA review starting September 12. However, if we made a successful contact with you before May 27, your 15-day response clock started and we may have acted on the information we had on hand if we did not hear from you by the response deadline.

If you designated someone to answer questions in your absence, please review any communications between that person and USAC that occurred while you were away. Also, check to see if USAC has issued you an FCDL or if PIA questions are still pending.

If the review of your application is still in process, remember that you can ask for more time to respond if you cannot meet the customary 15-day deadline.

Looking Ahead

In the next several weeks, the SL News Brief will be devoted to a detailed discussion of the various activities applicants and service providers should be undertaking to finish up program activities for FY2010 and any activities that can be started or completed for FY2011. Following that, we will provide suggestions and reminders about getting ready for the FY2012 application filing window.

Now would be a good time to start gathering up documents that will allow you to easily and correctly complete invoicing activities for any previous funding years. Examples of these documents include customer bills, descriptions of service, BEAR Forms already submitted for the funding year, BEAR Notification Letters, and Quarterly Disbursement Reports. In addition, you should start collecting important documentation before it gets lost or misplaced. The E-rate Binder on the USAC website contains a suggested list and organizational format that should help you comply with the program’s five-year documentation retention requirement.

We will start next week with a discussion of the program activities that applicants should be working on for FY2010 and FY2011.