Special Communication Regarding 2016-17 E-Rate Funding Status
Over the past several months, we have been hearing concerns from applicants who still have not received their 2016 funding commitments. This is not just an issue here in California, but is nationwide. Here in California, we have 5,182 funding requests still pending for 2016. This represents 44 percent of the total of 11,704 requests.
On Friday, December 16, 2016, the State E-rate Coordinators' Alliance (SECA) had a conference call with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) management to review this issue. Here are some important points from the call:
· USAC staff acknowledged the concerns and frustrations many applicants have with the slow pace of 2016 funding commitments.
· One of the major causes has been the processing of applications in the new E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) system. USAC is making needed software fixes to help speed the processing of applications. Additionally, in some situations, Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviewers may reach out to applicants outside of EPC to expedite processing.
· The good news is that based on recent increases in the pace of commitments and the expected further benefits from upcoming system improvements, USAC expects to process a majority of remaining applications by the end of January.
· USAC officials indicated they do not foresee any major changes to the FY 2017 Form 471. The FY2017 Form 471 filing window cannot open before February 2, 2017 and there will a period prior to the opening, during which time applicants will be able to update their entity, enrollment, and NSLP data in the EPC profiles.
· USAC will likely be more proactive in the coming weeks and provide more information to applicants on the status of the pending applications.
While not discussed on the call, it is important to know that any delay in getting your funding is not related to the overall amount of E-rate funding available. There are sufficient funds available to fund all requests.
It is very important to respond as soon as possible to any PIA requests for more information. Some of these requests will come over the holidays. If you are not available to respond to questions, it would be helpful for you to indicate this via your preferred mode of contact (e.g., an out-of-office message on e-mail or voicemail). USAC will not continue to leave messages or send e-mails if they know you are unavailable.
We hope the above information has been helpful and we are cautiously optimistic that many of these pending requests will be funded relatively soon. If you are experiencing difficulty with your PIA review process, please contact USAC’s Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100. In the event that you are still un-able to resolve your difficulties with USAC’s Client Service Bureau, you may contact Rachel White at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if additional help may be available to you.