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.