The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a final rule regarding measures to safeguard the Universal Service Fund (USF) from waste, fraud, and abuse. One of the USF’s four programs is the E-rate program, which supports discounted telecommunications and Internet access to schools and libraries. Background on the rules as proposed is available at the second link below, and comments to the proposed rules written by EdLiNC, which NSBA joined, are at the third. The FCC has decided that additional audit requirements are unnecessary at this time but will monitor ongoing audits to determine the need for additional or targeted auditing. Further, the rule retains the five year requirement for schools and libraries to retain records of evidence that the funding they received was proper. The five year period for determining violations also will continue to apply to schools and libraries, and, consistent with a prior FCC conclusion, funds used in violation of an FCC rule of substantive program goal are to be recovered. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which manages USF funds, will be required to collect a variety of information as performance measures, including different types or capacities of broadband services supported through school and library programs, identity of schools not participating in the program, number of funding applications granted and denied, the amount of time required to make a payment, and data on how quickly appeals are resolved. Resources from NSBA’s Office of Advocacy on the E-rate program are collected at the last link below. Most of the provisions of the final regulations are effective October 24, 2007.
72 Fed. Reg. 54,214 (Sept. 24, 2007)
NSBA School Law pages on proposed rules
EdLiNC’s comments to proposed rules
NSBA Advocacy pages on E-rate