FCC seeks comments on oversight of E-Rate program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Inquiry on proposed measures to strengthen the management, administration, and oversight of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), how to define its goals more clearly, and to identify any additional quantifiable performance measures that may be necessary or desirable. One of the USF’s four programs is the E-Rate program, which provides discounted telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries (“E-Rate”). As of this writing, the FCC’s notice has not yet been published in the Federal Register. The FCC notes recent audit reports that have estimated the rate of improper payments by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the private not-for-profit corporation created to serve as the administrator of the USF, at 12.9%, and that have found non-compliance in several areas, such as recordkeeping; eligible services; using the correct discount; and entering into a contract too early in the application process. The deadline for filing initial comments in this proceeding will be thirty (30) days following the date of publication of the Notice of Inquiry in the Federal Register, and the deadline for filing replies will be sixty (60) days following the date of Federal Register publication. A summary of the notice by the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani also is below. Audit reports by the FCC Office of the Inspector General, including audits related to E-Rate funding of schools, are at the next link. Last year the FCC promulgated regulations, summarized at the last link, increasing oversight of the program.
FCC notice of inquiry
Bracewell & Giuliani update on FCC notice
FCC inspector general audit reports
NSBA School Law pages on E-Rate regulations