State Master Contracts and E-rate

By Gary Rawson posted 10-06-2014 19:37

I just returned from a week in DC. USAC was holding their Fall Training session. While "in town" many of us met with members of the FCC to discuss the recent E-rate Modernization Order, The Order offers many new procedures and processes to make the program more efficient and services more cost effective. One of these new concepts is that of offering a Simplified Application Process for applicants using contracts that are "no longer than five years". 

191. As an initial matter, we simplify the application process for funding requests that involve multi-year contracts for eligible services. This simplified application process will be available to any applicant, beginning in funding year 2015, when: (1) the applicant has a multi-year contract for E-rate supported services that is no longer than five years

So, if you have a State Master Contract (SMC) that is longer than five years, including any extensions, then your applicants can not use the Simplified Application Process (SAP). When applicants compare SMCs to other offerings price will no longer be their primary determining factor; it will be "where can the applicant get the SAP".  So, even if your SMC offers the best pricing, schools and libraries will find a way to follow that easy path.

This is just the first step in a mutli-pronged approach to eliminate SMCs from e-rate eligibility. I worry this is going to force some states to simply remove schools and libraries from their Contract Consortium.

If you have a mult-year SMC that is longer than five years, including extensions, and your schools and libraries use that contract, then you need to get involved in this discussion. Otherwise, you are in for a surprise.