Mel Blackwell, USAC’s Vice President of the E-rate Program, issued a news brief on Friday announcing that, as a result of “unexpected complications with the implementation of USAC’s new IT system,” USAC is extending the deadline for all applicants to submit their Description of Services Ordered and Certification Form (FCC Form 471) from Friday, April 29th to Thursday, May 26th. In addition, acknowledging that libraries and consortia rely on the data input into the system by their members and school districts to complete their own applications, Mr. Blackwell announced that USAC will open a second filing window for libraries and consortia immediately following the conclusion of the first. The second window for consortia and libraries will close on Thursday, July 21st.
The extension comes as E-rate applicants have encountered critical failures with the new E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC), including:
- data entered into the EPC not appearing properly on the PDF version of the form
- the inability to upload large datasets
- erroneous error messages
- users getting locked out for unknown reasons
- the inability of libraries to submit forms
According to Mr. Blackwell, the extension is not expected to delay USAC’s ability to process forms submitted during the first window in a timely manner.