?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

E-Rate, the thing that would not die.

I spent most of last night sprawled out in the living room poring over submission documents prepared by the consultants. I found one trivial error, three minor errors, one major error, and one catastrophic error. The trivial one was explained by rounding error introduced when an annual cost had to be expressed as a monthly fee (and the 3¢ variance will stand). The three minors were the same error repeated in three places – the wrong site name for a school. In the major, the person doing data entry picked a number from the wrong column (the amount we're asking the Feds for, not the full cost); a simple mistake with a $75,693.61 price tag. All these are easy to correct. That leaves the one biggie.

The biggie was that the application uses the school systems district-wide ID number for every individual request instead of each individual site's ID number for their individual requests. The error was apparently caused by a change the Feds made to their web-based system for importing student demographic data. It would have been catastrophic if it went in that way due to the new 'two years in five' eligibility rules – using the district code would have blown a year of eligibility for every school in the district, whether they got any equipment or not. The result is that our consultants have to trash this thirty five page application and start over. The good news is that the filing deadline is 23:59 EST next Thursday. They should have the application re-keyed over the weekend, and submitted early next week with days to spare.

I have to wonder about the thought process at USAC (the Universal Service Administrative Company – the non-profit corporation created by the FCC to administer the E-Rate program). USAC chose right now, smack in the middle of the filing window for 2006-2007 funding, to launch a brand new, redesigned from roots to branches, web site. I mean, WTF? Could you make the process harder, please? If I were a more conspiracy-oriented person I would suspect Bush administration meddling to foul a program that mostly helps poor kids. Alas, I think simple bureaucratic stupidity suffices as an explanation.


At least today, people were better behaved and there was no reason to look longingly at the flag locker and the pegs that hold my cutlass.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
half_elf_lost
Feb. 11th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
have to wonder about the thought process at USAC (the Universal Service Administrative Company – the non-profit corporation created by the FCC to administer the E-Rate program). USAC chose right now, smack in the middle of the filing window for 2006-2007 funding, to launch a brand new, redesigned from roots to branches, web site. I mean, WTF?

First of all, they just don't care about the applicants. In fact, the fewer that don't do it correctly (use the website), the fewer they have to process. Second, this is exactly what my company does! We make huge system changes requiring heaps of training right in the middle of our busiest processing periods.
netcurmudgeon
Feb. 11th, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
And perversely, the more applicants USAC can bounce, the farther they can stretch their fixed $2,250,000,000 per year fund. (If you reduce the number of big city high-poverty applicants in the program soaking up disproportionately huge wads of money, the more small and medium sized not-so-impoverished schools you can fund. And, these smaller communities aren't, you know, black.)

So, has anyone with your company ever offered a rationale for their choice of timing?
(Anonymous)
Feb. 12th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
You know, I was going to mention that I'd bet that poorer schools get screwed in this process. You have to wonder how many schools systems get $$$ that don't really need it. *sigh*

So, has anyone with your company ever offered a rationale for their choice of timing?

Uhm, other than they're all f*cked up? Yes. We are the classic case of a company where the IT tail wags the business dog. We're all just whores to our IT masters here, instead of the business side running the show.

It's almost as if they've forgotten we're here to make money.
netcurmudgeon
Feb. 12th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
You have to wonder how many schools systems get $$$ that don't really need it.

Waste, fraud, and abuse have been such a major problem within the E-Rate program that the FCC empanneled a commission to study just that. There have been several program changes as a result of the WF&A Commission's report (one of them being the two-years-in-five rule).

Vendors, in particular, have been very ill behaved. In many cases contriving illegal schemes to inflate what they charge the feds, use the extra cash to cover the district's share, and thereby get districts that couldn't afford to do anything to do massive networking projects. Vendors have seen the program as a cash cow, and a bunch of people have gone to jail for their greed and stupidity. USAC has a list of people who have been suspended and debared due to fraud.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

January 2017
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner