[erate-maine] USAC's Schools and Libraries News Brief for this week

McKenney, Janet Janet.McKenney at maine.gov
Sat Nov 1 10:54:01 EDT 2008

This SLD News brief has guidance about the relationship between a
technology plan and the Form 470.
Janet McKenney
Maine State Library
Coordinator of Learning and Technology Services
64 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333-0064
janet.mckenney at maine.gov


From: SL News Brief [mailto:SLNewsBrief at lists.universalservice.org] 
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 12:47 PM
To: McKenney, Janet
Subject: USAC's Schools and Libraries News Brief for this week

header <http://www.usac.org> 	
Schools and Libraries News Brief 

October 31, 2008 


TIP OF THE WEEK: If you are preparing to file a Form 470 for Funding
Year 2009 (FY2009), be sure that you have a written technology plan that
covers FY2009. This can be an approved technology plan written in an
earlier funding year that covers FY2009 or a new technology plan that
you are working on now.

Commitments for Funding Years 2008 and 2007 

Funding Year 2008. USAC will release two FY2008 waves of Funding
Commitment Decision Letters (FCDLs) next week. Wave 29 on November 5
will include commitments for approved Internal Connections and Basic
Maintenance requests at 90% and denials at 79% and below. Wave 30 on
November 6 will include commitments for approved Internal Connections
and Basic Maintenance requests at 90% and denials at 80% and below. As
of October 31, FY2008 commitments total over $1.52 billion. 

Funding Year 2007. USAC will release FY2007 Wave 70 FCDLs November 5.
This wave will include commitments for approved Internal Connections and
Basic Maintenance requests at 81% and above and denials at 80% and
below. As of October 31, FY2007 commitments total just under $2.5

On the day the FCDLs are mailed, you can check to see if you have a
commitment by using USAC's Automated Search of Commitments
sl-newsbrief-20081031>  tool.

Technology Planning and Form 470

We discussed the first two steps in the application process, writing a
technology plan and filing a Form 470, in the September 26, 2008 SL News
l-newsbrief-20081031>  and the October 17, 2008 SL News Brief
l-newsbrief-20081031> , respectively. However, it is also important to
keep in mind the relationship between these two steps. Below are several
questions that you should consider as you write (create) your technology
plan and prepare to file a Form 470.

What is the relationship between the technology plan and the Form 470?

Your technology plan, if properly done, forms the basis for the
acquisition and use of the services featured on your Form 470. By
describing your current and future needs, your goals and strategies for
using technology, and a budget that includes both your non-discount
share and the resources you need to effectively use discounted services,
you can prepare reasonable funding requests and evaluate and monitor
your progress toward reaching your technology goals.

The services you request on your Form 470 should follow from your goals
and strategies and your current and future needs as described in your
technology plan. This helps to ensure that the products and services for
which E-rate provides discounts will be put to good and effective use.

How do I avoid an overly broad Form 470?

An overly broad or "encyclopedic" Form 470, instead of being tailored to
your technology plan, covers a wide and unconnected range of services
that may be eligible for discounts but that do not truly advance or
support the specific goals and strategies articulated in that technology

To avoid this pitfall, prepare a Form 470 with a level of detail
appropriate to the size and complexity of your technology plan that
features services that you actually plan to use. Your entries in the
"Service or Function" and "Quantity and/or Capacity" fields in Items 8,
9, 10, and 11 of the Form 470 should be consistent with both the overall
goals and the specific details included in your plan.

How long and how detailed should my technology plan and Form 470 be?

There is not a minimum or maximum requirement for the length or
complexity of a technology plan. We suggest that you keep the following
general guidelines in mind:

	A small entity will probably have a smaller, less complex
technology plan than a large entity. The technology plan for a one-room
elementary school with dial-up Internet access will be smaller and
simpler than the technology plan for a school district with 20 school
buildings that have broadband Internet access and are connected by a
wide area network.
	An entity with limited technology needs will probably have a
smaller, simpler technology plan than an entity with more complex needs.
For example, consider two single-site libraries of approximately the
same size. One is planning to build an addition in two years with
greatly expanded telephone and Internet services, while the other has
limited telephone and Internet access in place and is expecting to
maintain the status quo for the next three years. The technology plan of
the second entity will likely be smaller and/or simpler than that of the
first entity.
	Your current situation may affect the detail and the degree of
complexity in your technology plan and your Form 470. For example, a
school with no infrastructure in place to support Internet access could
explore a variety of technological solutions to supply Internet access,
while a school planning a buildout of an existing infrastructure might
have more limited options because any new equipment would have to be
compatible with existing equipment.
	Technology Plan Approvers (TPAs) can set requirements of their
own for the technology plans that they approve. They may ask for a level
of detail beyond that required by the E-rate program.

You should also make sure your technology plan is not overly narrow. For
example, you may have written your technology plan to allow for only
wired Internet access. If appropriate, you might broaden your plan so
that you could also consider wireless Internet services as an option. If
both options could work for you, your Form 470 should encourage bids on

What effect should my needs assessment have on my Form 470?

The needs assessment element of your technology plan should address more
than just the number of computers or other hardware you intend to
acquire in order to make use of discounted services. For example:

	An old building with limited electrical capacity may not be able
to support your requests for services unless you first make substantial
modifications to its electrical system. If this is the case, upgrading
your infrastructure may precede your request for all of the services you
have included in your technology plan and your Form 470 should take this
into account.
	Your infrastructure may support your request but your staff may
lack the necessary training to take full advantage of the discounted
services. Again, you may have to plan your Form 470 requests in stages
to make sure all necessary training has occurred in time to make
effective use of the services.

Keep in mind that by the time you file your Form 471, you must be
prepared to certify that you have acquired the necessary resources to
implement your technology. That is why it is especially important that
you make an accurate and complete needs assessment and begin taking the
appropriate steps to secure resources in a timely manner.

How specific should I be about the scope of my project?

When completing your Form 470, you should give service providers an
accurate understanding of the scope of your project. For example, if
your library system has nine branches and your plan is for all of them
to receive Internal Connections in FY2009, make that fact clear in your
Form 470.

That does not mean, however, that you have to be overly specific in the
"Quantity or Capacity" field on the Form 470. For example, if your
school district is comprised of three elementary schools and one
junior/senior high school and the local student population has not
changed much in the last several years, you can enter "For my entire
school district" in this field. Service providers who are not familiar
with your area could easily get a clear idea of the scope of your
project. However, if your school district is either growing or shrinking
rapidly, you should make that clear as well.

The Quantity or Capacity field in Items 8, 9, 10, and/or 11 on the Form
470 could therefore be short or very detailed, depending on the
information you want to convey to give potential bidders a clear idea of
your project's scope.

What effects could minor or major changes to my technology plan have on
my Form 470?

Some technology plans are revised or updated before they expire.
Although technology plans are usually approved for three years,
situations can change. For example, you may accomplish all of the goals
and strategies included in your plan in the first two years of the plan.
Alternatively, a reduction in funding may have prevented you from
accomplishing your goals according to your original schedule.

	Minor revisions or updates are those that remain within the
scope of the original version of the technology plan and any related
Forms 470. USAC does not require such revisions or updates to be
re-approved, but you should check with your TPA for any processing
	Major revisions or updates are those outside of the scope of the
original version of the technology plan and/or the Form 470. A major
revision would require the issuance of a new Form 470 because the
provision of the new or expanded services is significant enough to
require a new competitive bidding process. If you make a major revision
or update to your technology plan, you can have the revised technology
plan approved for the period of time remaining on your original
technology plan or you can ask for it to be approved for up to three
years as a new technology plan. Again, if you are in this situation,
talk to your TPA.

As you get ready to file your Form 470, you should review any revisions
or updates that you have made to your technology plan and consider any
other changes that may be necessary. If you have revised or updated your
technology plan, don't just copy the Form 470 you filed last year. Think
first if those revisions or updates will affect the Form 470 you file
for the upcoming funding year.


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