Part in yellow shows that you and your patrons are paying into this fund whether or not you choose to use it.
Note supports connectivity NOT content.
Note that you have to be able to prove that you can and have provided these additional resources. And these requirements will vary depending on the level of funding requested.
As far as E-Rate calendar goes, Steps 1 & 2 should be completed before Step 3. You have roughly between July and December to complete Step 3 – earlier is better. Steps 4-6 are completed AFTER 28 day filing window closes.
Step 6 refers to Eligible services list – updated each year. Useful to find out which category a service falls into and whether or not something is eligible for E-Rate. Note that if you choose to have discounts applied to your bills, you can skip Step 11 and the BEAR form
Competitive bidding is a cornerstone of E-Rate. Ideally, it means that competition between service providers should get you cost effective service. What it often means in practice is that if there is competition, you need to keep good records that all vendors were given fair consideration - Price must be the primary factor when constructing the evaluation of bid responses. 5 years from last date of service. For most on-going services 6/30 is last date so records for funding year 2005 which ends 6/30/06 must be kept until 2011.
You need to have your tech plan written before you file Form 470 with proof. Your tech plan must be approved by the state before you file Form 486 or the funding year begins whichever is earlier. Maggie, Tracy and I review library tech plans, suggest changes and eventually recommend for approval. Once it’s officially approved, you get a letter from Helena. That letter should be kept with your tech plan as proof of compliance. Have you taken part in professional development courses? Proof What services do you have available what are your plans for updating/upgrading? Do you have the budget required to pay your portion as well as for necessary updates/upgrades and professional development? How are you going to evaluate whether or not you meet your goals?
The difference between levels two and three is generally monthly charges to your internet service provider. Your ISP may or may not be the same as your telecomm/DSL provider. In my case, Qwest provides DSL, MSN/IMT are possible ISPs. We won’t be talking about CIPA during this session. That’s another workshop. Updated presentation is available from the website. Documentation includes proof that you are using a TPM, copy of internet safety policy, copies of public notice and minutes from hearing.
Expect the greatest scrutiny of internal connections purchases. This is where most of the waste, fraud and abuse has taken place. Also, keep in mind that internal connections haven’t been available to any school or library under 80% discount for the majority of the program’s lifespan.
You’re given options in forms for how you want to be contacted – choose email or fax. That way you have written records of all communications. This is essential in case of appeals of audits. You’re generally given a time frame of when you need to respond. Be sure to comply. If it’s review season and you plan to be away for a prolonged period of time, make sure you can be reached and/or make sure someone else can respond in your place. Only give as much information as is required at the time.
They scrutinize applicants because they’re being scrutinized by Congress. There are members of Congress who are dead set against the program and would like to eliminate it. They’re continually looking for reasons to do so. It doesn’t help us that there have been widely publicized cases of waste, fraud and abuse. Competitive bidding is a biggie to USAC. Even if we have no competition in many parts of our state, be prepared to document serious bids or lack thereof. Tech plans are critical in showing that services fit into your plan for your library and that you will make every effort to provide the equipment and maintenance, training, etc. to really make use of the money coming from USAC. Budget – what are your current and projected costs for equipment, training, maintenance? How are you paying for these? Copies of invoices from service providers
Handouts – demonstrating compliance and E-Rate binder.
I’m not going to talk in detail about either of these today. Let me know if you’re interested and we can schedule on-line conferences on either or both topics. There are several advantages to using RFPs, particularly in the CYA (cover your assets) area. You can spell out exactly what you’re looking for and what you will consider. You can talk about desired/preferred qualifications for bidders. You can set bidding deadline dates. This can eliminate bogus marketing ploys masquerading as legitimate bids. I think RFPs are necessary if you’re talking about anything beyond basic E-Rate, desirable for others. If you sign a multi-year contract with a service provider, making sure you did everything properly in the Form 470, you won’t have to file another Form 470 for this service for the duration of the contract. But you still need to file Form 471 every year. The disadvantage is that you won’t be able to take advantage of newer better services.
The group is a good place to ask questions and share experiences. Do let me know about any problems you might have with USAC personnel. I’d also like to know about site visits and audits so I can make sure you’re prepared for likely questions. Thanks to Gates Foundation, ALA has received funding for group support and training. I have access to consultants and higher level USAC personnel to resolve issues.
One of the great things about E-Rate is it can help pay for needed upgrades to your services? The question becomes what do I need to upgrade?
What are you getting now from your ISP? What is available? Libraries really need to be looking at 1.5 Mb as a MINIMUM. More is better.
Brainstorm potential goals for improving education or library services.
I emphasized new here because I think the requirements for professional development are greater for new staff and/or new technologies. If you’re not offering new services but rather a continuation, you probably don’t need a lot of training. Meeting certification requirements should be sufficient as well as a strategy for keeping up on new technologies that might benefit your patrons.
If you’re not offering anything new or significant upgrades, your needs for additional equipment probably won’t be great. But you should consider in your plan periodic replacements and upgrades.
A modest plan requires a modest budget but you do need to consider where you’re going to get the money to pay for expenses. If your plan is more ambitious, you’ll need to show access to greater funds.
I think it should probably be sufficient here to put in a timeline of how often library staff and/or board will review the tech plan and make necessary changes. Ideally, your tech plan should be part of your library’s long-range plan. In that case, you simply choose a couple of technology-related goals and then use relevant pieces from your long range plan to fill in the other requirements.
E-rate Introduction from Fall Workshop 2008
E-Rate: It’s not as bad as you’ve heard… Suzanne Reymer Montana State Library Fall Workshop 2008
Overview of the Schools and Libraries Program <ul><li>The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly known as "E-Rate," is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services. </li></ul>
Overview Part 2 <ul><li>The Schools and Libraries Program supports connectivity - the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet. Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services , Internet access , internal connections , and basic maintenance of internal connections . Discounts for support depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served and range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium. </li></ul>
Overview Part 3 <ul><li>Applicants must provide additional resources including end-user equipment (e.g., computers, telephones, etc.), software, professional development, and the other elements that are necessary to utilize the connectivity funded by the Schools and Libraries Program. </li></ul>
E-Rate Steps <ul><li>Step 1 Determine Eligibility </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2 Develop a Technology Plan – more on this later! </li></ul><ul><li>Step 3 Open a Competitive Bidding Process – Form 470 </li></ul><ul><li>Step 4 Select a Service Provider </li></ul><ul><li>Step 5 Calculate the Discount Level </li></ul>
E-Rate Steps Part 2 <ul><li>Step 6 Determine Your Eligible Services </li></ul><ul><li>Step 7 Submit Your Application for Program Support – Form 471 </li></ul><ul><li>Step 8 Undergo Application Review </li></ul><ul><li>Step 9 Receive Your Funding Decision </li></ul><ul><li>Step 10 Begin Receipt of Services – Form 486 </li></ul><ul><li>Step 11 Invoice USAC – BEAR Form 472 </li></ul>
Different Funding Levels Require More or Less Effort <ul><li>Level One – Basic phone service (POTS) </li></ul><ul><li>Level Two – DSL access (Telecomm) </li></ul><ul><li>Level Three – Internet Access </li></ul><ul><li>Level Four – Internal Connections </li></ul>
Level One Basic Phone Service <ul><li>Form 470 </li></ul><ul><li>Competitive bidding process </li></ul><ul><li>Form 471 </li></ul><ul><li>Form 486 </li></ul><ul><li>Keep records for 5 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Payment records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Log of all communications with USAC </li></ul></ul>
Level Two DSL access <ul><li>Level One requirements plus </li></ul><ul><li>Approved technology plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals and realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A professional development strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An assessment of telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing evaluation process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Records related to technology plan </li></ul>
Level Three Internet Access <ul><li>Level Two requirements plus </li></ul><ul><li>CIPA compliance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology Protection Measure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet Safety Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Notice and Hearing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Records related to CIPA compliance </li></ul>
Level Four Internal Connections <ul><li>Level Three requirements plus </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed asset registers (including make, model, serial number, and location) to facilitate the tracking of equipment purchased with USF support. </li></ul><ul><li>Diagrams that clearly show how equipment is actually connected and used. </li></ul>
Suggestions for Dealing with USAC Inquiries <ul><li>Communicate in writing, i.e., email or fax </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to all inquiries promptly </li></ul><ul><li>My name is Linda </li></ul>
Be Prepared to Answer USAC Concerns <ul><li>Competitive bidding </li></ul><ul><li>Can you really use the services you’re requesting? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you afford these services? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you paying your share? </li></ul>
Document and Organize <ul><li>USAC suggests you set up E-Rate binders for each year with all of the paperwork </li></ul><ul><li>In case of a visit or audit you can save yourself additional scrutiny by being able to easily locate all relevant paperwork </li></ul>
Plan Ahead Now and Save Some Work in the Future <ul><li>Use an RFP (Request for Proposal) instead of filling in details about services in Form 470 every year </li></ul><ul><li>Sign multi-year contracts with service providers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But make sure you do everything RIGHT or you could lose funding for the duration of an illegal/improper contract. </li></ul></ul>
Remember, You’re Not Alone! <ul><li>Montana E-Rate group </li></ul><ul><li>State E-Rate coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>ALA State E-Rate coordinators’ group/phone calls/trainings w/USAC </li></ul>
Potential Bandwidth Hogs <ul><li>Downloads – video and audio </li></ul><ul><li>Uploads – video and audio responses </li></ul><ul><li>Streaming video </li></ul><ul><li>Web conferencing </li></ul><ul><li>Skype and other VOIP apps. </li></ul><ul><li>Online gaming </li></ul>
Technology Goals <ul><li>The plan must establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education or library services. </li></ul>
Professional Development <ul><li>The plan must have a professional development strategy to ensure that staff understands how to use these new technologies to improve education or library services. </li></ul>
Needs assessment <ul><li>The plan must include an assessment of the telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services that will be needed to improve education or library services. </li></ul>
Budget <ul><li>The plan must provide for a sufficient budget to acquire and support the non-discount elements of the plan: the hardware, software, professional development, and other services that will be needed to implement the strategy. </li></ul>
Evaluation <ul><li>The plan must include an evaluation process that enables the school or library to monitor progress toward the specified goals and make mid-course corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise. </li></ul>
More Information <ul><li>MT E-Rate blog (includes box to subscribe to E-Rate group/list) http://mtlibraryerate.blogspot.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Delicious links http://delicious.com/sreymer/eratetraining08 </li></ul><ul><li>USAC – Schools and Libraries Program http:// www.universalservice.org/sl / </li></ul>