Form 479 and Updated Letters of Agency

It is again time to update your Erate forms for FY2019.
We will be collecting three forms from every district  this year.

The first two will be:
Form 479 – This form can be electronically signed.  Just click on the link and follow the prompts.

ESU 10 Letter of Agency – This is a ‘fillable’ .pdf form that will need to be printed on your school letterhead, signed and either FAXED or emailed back to us.

There will be a State LOA that will be available soon.  We will post that as soon as it becomes available.

If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

EARLY! Funding Commitments Coming In

The Funding commitment decision letters are rolling in early!  There are a couple of things to know before  you start ordering equipment.

  1. The 486 must be filed, certified, and approved by USAC before you can order any equipment!   A lot of our vendors will not place the order until that is certified.
  2. Equipment can be ordered after April 1, 2018, however you CAN NOT be invoiced for any equipment until AFTER JULY 1, 2018.  We have had instances of funds being denied because of this.
  3. When you submit Purchase Orders please mark clearly on the PO that you want a Service Provider Invoice (SPI). That will hopefully avoid having to complete a BEAR form at a later date.

USAC WEBINARS FOR ERATE

USAC will be offering two new webinars for Erate beginners and for those that may need a refresher.  These webinars are very informational and will give participants a chance to participate in a live question and answer session with members of the Schools and Libraries team.  Whether you are new to the program or just need an update we highly recommend attending these sessions. It will be well worth the hour out of your day.  Below are the sessions they will be offering and links to the registration.

If you can’t attend the live presentations, register for the webinars and they will send you a link to the recording. The recordings will also be posted in the Online Learning Library.


E-rate 101: Introduction to the E-rate Program

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 1:00-2:00 PM ET

This webinar provides an overview of E-rate Program fundamentals, including key terms, timelines, processes, and the roles of USAC and the FCC. Learn who can apply for funding and what types of services are eligible as well as how to calculate your discounts and Category Two budgets. The presentation is a great option for first-time applicants and anyone who needs a refresher on the basics of the E-rate Program. Register Now!

E-rate Program Application Process

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 1:00-2:00 PM ET

This webinar provides a detailed overview of the E-rate Program Application Process. We will explain the purpose and process of filing each program form, including your options for invoicing. We will also provide guidance on the requirements for choosing a vendor and what to expect during Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) review. Last, we’ll cover the rules and importance of document retention. The presentation is intended for first-time applicants and anyone who needs a refresher on the basics of the E-rate Program Application Process. Register Now!


Need Help?

If you have any questions about the webinar, please contact USAC Outreach at outreach@usac.org.

Audience members may submit questions anytime during the live event. If the presenters are unable to answer your questions, please call the Client Service Bureau at (888) 203-8100 or open a customer service case in EPC.

E-rate Funding Year 2017 Application Filing Window Opens February 27, 2017

Following is the letter/announcement from USAC regarding the Form 471 filing window for Funding Year 2017:

USAC is pleased to announce the application filing window for Funding Year (FY) 2017 will open on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 12:00 noon EST (11:00 AM CST) and close on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT (10:59 PM CST).
All applicants can begin preparing now for successful filing of your FY2017 application by taking the following steps:
  • Log-in or create your account in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and then review, update or assign user rights for anyone who will need access for FY2017. Please note, Google Chrome is the preferred browser for EPC. No matter what browser you use, be sure the latest version is installed on your computer.
Review your profile and confirm all of your information is accurate including your organization’s name, address and entities. Your profile is now unlocked and available for you to insert any further updates but will be locked again on February 26, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST.
School districts should take extra care to be sure they have inserted the latest National School Lunch Program (NSLP) student counts (or alternative discount mechanisms) as well as included new construction, non-instructional facilities and Adult Education and Head Start programs.
  • If you have not started the competitive bidding process please begin now. There is no need to wait for the window to open. The USAC website provides step-by-step instructions.
  • As always, representatives at our Client Service Bureau (CSB) are available to help you at 888-203-8100 or simply open a customer service case in EPC.
We recognize that 2016 was a challenging year for many in the E-rate community and all of us in the Schools and Libraries Division are working to make 2017 and beyond a simpler, faster and more efficient experience. In 2017, we will be taking steps to improve the stakeholder experience and continuously improve EPC.
Specifically:
  • We anticipate a single filing window for 2017 and better prioritization of application processing so funding decisions are provided in a timelier manner.
  • Applicants will recognize the flow of the online application process, and further enhancements will be available including the “Copy My FRN” feature along with the templates for uploads of large entries. This will assist all applicants.
  • Along with continued enhanced stakeholder education and outreach, the formation of a stakeholder innovation group who will provide guidance and feedback on the design of a new applicant portal.
All of us in the Schools and Libraries Division would like to thank you for your continued cooperation, patience and understanding. We look forward to a successful 2017 fund year.
Sincerely,
Craig Davis

UPDATE ON BEAR FORM PROCESSING – 8.9.16

Applicants can now submit invoices for FY2016, and USAC can review, process and pay them.

  • Previously, while service providers have been able to submit an FCC Form 474, Service Provider Invoice (SPI) Form, online and electronically for FY2016, USAC held all submitted SPI Forms until the review and payment processes were in place for FY2016.
  • Applicants were unable to submit an FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form, online for FY2016. Applicants can now submit BEAR Forms for FY2016, and the review and payment processes are in place as well.

As a reminder, applicants filing BEAR Forms for FY2016 must have certified – and USAC must have successfully processed – an FCC Form 498, Service Provider and Billed Entity Identification Number and General Contact Information Form.

  • After the applicant certifies this form, USAC must verify the banking information. Please respond promptly to the request from USAC so that the review process can be completed.
  • Make sure you put your bank routing number and your bank account number in the correct fields.
  • If you make a change to your FCC Form 498, you must re-certify the form or we cannot process it.
  • For questions, call us at (888) 641-8722 and choose Option 5 (FCC Form 498) and then Option 1 or 2 (questions about the form).

Submitting an invoice to USAC

  • To file a BEAR Form online, applicants navigate to the Forms page and click “File Online” in the FCC Form 472 row.
  • Remember that invoice forms can no longer be submitted on paper for any funding year.

More detailed guidance about completing the FCC Form 498 review process will be included in this Friday’s SL News Brief.

BEAR FORM PROCESS UPDATE – 7.30.2016

We received the following information regarding the BEAR Form process from the USAC News Briefs:

There will be a small delay for applicants and service providers who are ready to invoice USAC for FY2016 services. USAC will begin processing invoicing forms and issuing payments the week of August 8, 2016.

The delay affects applicants and service providers differently:

Applicants: The FCC Form 472, Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) Form, used for direct reimbursements to applicants, will be available in the legacy system the week of August 8.

Even though the system currently has a link to the form, it is not ready to use. At this time users cannot complete or submit a BEAR Form, and will encounter an error message if they attempt to do so. Remember to obtain a 498 ID in advance, which is required before USAC can process a BEAR Form.

Prepare for FY2016-Get Logged Into The NEW Erate Portal

Below are some links to instructions on how to get logged into the new Erate Productivity Center (EPC).  All Funding Year 2016 forms and correspondence will now go through this portal so it is important that you get logged in and make sure those involved in the Erate process are signed in as ‘users’.  If you have questions or problems contact the Client Service Bureau at 1-888-203-8100.

E-rate Productivity Center (EPIC)
   Logging into EPC
   Creating a New User
   Modifying an Account Administrator
   Adding a Consultant

USAC Rolls Out New Erate Portal – E-rate Productivity Center (EPC)

USAC is rolling out its new system, named E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and pronounced “epic.”

The first phase is the customer portal for applicants.

USAC is setting up accounts for Billed Entities, which will include School Districts, Schools and Consortia, based on the information from Forms 471 filed for Funding Year (FY) 2015. When this account is created you should receive an invitation email from  EPC.Application.Administrator@usac.org with the subject line “USAC EPC Account Creation.”

In general, the authorized person on an FCC Form 471 will be set up as the account administrator for the billed entity.  Account administrators will then be able to set up accounts for additional users within their organization. If you complete the E-rate for your school or district and are not the person who submits and certifies that form we suggest that you check with the person in your organization that does this and have them set up a user account for you in the system.

Here are a few of our observations regarding this new system. However if you have any questions we strongly suggest you access the USAC on-line learning library or the EPIC site directly.

  1. The login and password for the Account Administrator can ONLY be used by that person. No sharing of emails and pins.
  2. It is our understanding that the Account Administrator and the Authorized Person-the one who submits and certifies the forms-do not have to be the same person.
  3. Each user in the Portal can be given ‘specific’ permissions (see the video Managing User Permissions)
  4. BE SURE that all contact, Billed entity, and email information are correct in the portal.

Information and instructions on how to get started with your new account are in this  video.

For more information on the portal including:

  • Modifying Account Administrator
  • Creating a New User
  • Managing Permissions

Go to: http://goo.gl/cmGkYn 

Competitive Bidding Process

Competitive Bidding Process

This weeks News Brief from the SLD has some great information regarding the bidding process.  Please take  a moment to read through it, as I think it will answer a lot of your questions on this process.

Receiving one bid – or no bids

If you receive only one bid or no bids in response to your FCC Form 470, you can contact service providers to solicit bids and can then review and evaluate any bids received as a result. You may wish to note that you received only one bid or did not receive any bids in an email to yourself or a memo to the file in case questions come up later (e.g., during a review or an audit).

Considering all bids received

After the applicant has waited at least 28 days, the applicant must carefully consider all of the bids received. Remember that bids can only be disqualified if the applicant spelled out the disqualification reasons in the FCC Form 470 or the RFP or both.

Applicants can use one or more factors in their bid evaluations, but the price of the E-rate eligible products and services must be considered a factor and must be weighted more heavily than any other single factor in the evaluation. If you need assistance constructing your evaluation documentation, there is a sample bid evaluation matrix on the USAC website for your reference.

After considering all bids, the applicant must choose the most cost-effective bid and, if the services are not provided under tariff or on a month-to-month basis, must have in place a legally binding agreement (a signed contract is the best evidence of a legally binding agreement) before filing the FCC Form 471.

Retaining documentation

Applicants and service providers must retain all documents related to the application for, receipt, and delivery of discounted services for at least 10 years after the last day of service delivered in a particular funding year. We suggest that you save final documents as they are produced during the competitive bidding process, as they may be more difficult to locate after the process has been completed.

Specifically, we recommend that you retain the following in your files (this list is not exhaustive):

  • The FCC Form 470
  • The RFP, if one is issued
  • Questions from potential bidders and your answers
  • Copies of winning and losing bids
  • The final bid evaluation matrix and any supporting documentation

The contract, if one is signed.

Rejecting all bids/canceling a procurement

If the applicant decides that none of the bids received is responsive and rejects all of them – or if the applicant decides to cancel the competitive bidding process for other reasons – the applicant must file a new FCC Form 470 to open a new competitive bidding process. Before posting a new form and issuing a new RFP, the applicant could then make any desired revisions or changes that might improve its chances of receiving responsive bids. In the event of a complete rejection or cancellation, the applicant cannot use the earlier FCC Form 470 nor cite that form on an FCC Form 471 funding request. In fact, we suggest that the earlier FCC Form 470 be canceled to avoid any confusion.

Remember that the applicant must also be in compliance with all applicable state or local competitive bidding rules and regulations.

Making significant changes in the scope of a project and/or services requested

Applicants must post a new FCC Form 470 if they are making significant changes to the scope of the services requested on the FCC Form 470 and/or the RFP. Posting a new FCC Form 470 starts a new 28-day waiting period, so applicants must allow for that additional time. As stated above, applicants must also be in compliance with all applicable state or local competitive bidding rules and regulations – especially important if an RFP was also issued – and should consider canceling the earlier FCC Form 470 to avoid confusion.

 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Erate Competitive Bidding

Question: Do I need to respond to a vendor message that looks like ‘spam’ or isn’t a detailed quote?

Answer:  YES!  You must respond to all inquiries and keep all emails and responses.  Below are a couple of response examples to vendors

  • REQUEST FOR SPECIFIC BID: Thank you for your interest in our school’s eRate Form 470 funding application.  Please refer to the RFP whose link is provided in the Form 470 itself for vendor convenience.  If you have questions specific to anything in the RFP itself, please send them and we’ll do our best to answer them.  Since we are not requesting any installation services, network cabling, hands-on maintenance, etc., there shouldn’t be a need for any vendor to come onsite in order to respond to the 470.  We look forward to receiving your formal response!

  • RESPONSE TO BID FOR SERVICES NOT APPLIED FOR:
    Our posted Form 470 #************** was specifically for “[TYPE OF] service”.  Since there is nothing in your proposal about [TYPE OF] service I will have to disregard this proposal as unacceptable to meet our request.

  • RESPONSE TO BID RECEIVED AFTER SERVICE PROVIDER SELECTED:
    Thank you for your proposal, however we awarded the bid to [SERVICE PROVIDER] on [DATE]  and are in the process of filing the Form 471 applications at this time.

Question: What if I don’t receive any bids on my Form 470 for month to month services and I already have a service provider in place.

Answer:  Here is an ‘example’ of a memo you might want to print and put in your Erate file to memorialize that you received no bids and your decision for selecting a service provider.  Be sure to date it correctly.  

RE: Service Provider Selection for [TYPE OF SERVICE]
To date, we (******* Public Schools) have not received bids, proposals, or inquiries related to the form 470s for the services listed above. Therefore, we will move forward with filling of our form 471s.
Following are the providers we have selected and the costs: [Type of Service] [Name of Provider]  [Monthly costs]