In response to a Notice of Inquiry put forth by the Federal Communications Commission, ALA filed comments on E-rate program oversight. In this proceeding, the Commission asked commenters to consider recent audit findings. ALA’s comments addressed two main points:
1. E-rate has become so complex with so many nuances that it is almost impossible for the typical school or library to be 100% accurate in their execution of the application and invoicing processes. However, the FCC needs to consider the difference between intentional fraud and errors due to program complexity.
2. It is commonly understood that it takes an applicant three years and two complete application cycles to grasp the very basics of the program. Yet, it is our understanding that the audit firms hired to conduct these audits are given less than three days of training on the various aspects of the program.
“The Commission needs to address the problems found by the audits not with more audits, but by simplifying the program so it is easier for participants to comply,” said Carrie Lowe, Director, Program on Networks.