New web address

The SLD has a new web site address:<

http://www.sl.universalservice.org

The agency’s new web address reflects its merger with the the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) on Jan. 1, 1999. The parent USAC web site is:

http://www.universalservice.org

The SLD reports that its web site will be designed in a similar fashion. Comments and suggestions about improving the SLD web site may be sent to:

comments@universalservice.org

The SLD intends to develop a more user-friendly structure and will be incorporating a search engine, a more widely accessible online Form 471, and a detailed site map. For the next six months, users will be redirected to the new URL when logging onto the original web address (www.slcfund.org).

Update on appeals process

Appeals are “going more slowly than anticipated,” according to SLD President Kate Moore, who updated the SLD board at its April 19 meeting. The SLD has received 1,800 appeals of first-year funding decisions, or about 6 percent of the total applications filed, Moore said. As of April 19, decisions had been issued on 465 of those appeals.

Moore expects all appeals to be reviewed by early May. Unfortunately, no appeals will be funded until all have been evaluated and the SLD can assess the impact of successful appeals on the contingency fund set aside for them. Moore also said the 30-day deadline for filing an appeal is being strictly enforced.

If your appeal was turned down by the SLD, you can re-appeal directly to the FCC. Note, however, that the FCC appeals process is generally a more formal and time-consuming process. The FCC also has tended to view the rules of the eRate more restrictively than the SLD.

Update on Service Provider Invoice and BEAR Forms

The SLD has established a phone number for tracking the status of a Service Provider Invoice Form (Form 474) or BEAR Form if you haven’t received payment in a timely manner.

It’s the SLD’s goal to process service provider invoices and BEAR Forms within 20 days of receiving them. Allowing for delivery time, you should receive payment on an invoice or notification on a BEAR Form in about 30 days.

If you submitted a Form 474 more than 40 days ago, but you haven’t received payment on that invoice and haven’t heard from the SLD, you can check on the status of that invoice by calling (973) 428-7335 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.

Similarly, if you submitted a BEAR Form more than 40 days ago, but you haven’t received a BEAR notification letter from the SLD, you can call the same number listed above.

If you have questions about how to complete either form, you should call the SLD’s regular customer service help line at (888) 203-8100.

SLD announces new general counsel

On March 24, the SLD announced the appointment of Ellen Wolfhagen to its general counsel position. Ms. Wolfhagen, who assumed the position on April 6, was formerly a contracts attorney with the Washington State Department of Information Services and a member of the Year Three eRate Task Force.

Ms. Wolfhagen has been a lead attorney on eRate issues for the state of Washington. She has worked in the state government for 14 years and has state regulatory expertise in areas such as environmental policy and minority and women-owned business contracting rules.

“Ellen is known for her ability to find the common ground,” said SLD’s Kate Moore. “She is extremely knowledgeable about our program rules and will be a valuable asset in brokering solutions that work for the eRate’s diverse stakeholders, service providers and applicants alike.”

A graduate of New York University, Ms. Wolfhagen received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. She succeeds Debra Kriete, who resigned recently as general counsel after accepting a position with Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, LLP, where she remains an outside counsel for the SLD.

3Com offers new eRate resources

3Com Corp., the nation’s largest vendor of networking equipment to the education market, has launched a newly expanded web site to help K-12 schools and libraries apply for the eRate.

3Com’s eRate web site, http://www.3com.com/erate, is a central resource for eRate funding information. It includes an online workbook with all the necessary forms and step-by-step instructions, a summary of changes since the last funding period, an eMail link to 3Com for eRate inquiries, and links to many other educational resources, including state departments of education and technology.

“Hard work and teamwork between the education, vendor, and government communities enabled a robust program in its first year, and this second year of eRate builds on this progress,” said David Abramson, 3Com’s director of public affairs. Abramson is the networking industry’s only representative on the Schools and Libraries committee of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) board, and he chairs its programmatic subcommittee.

3Com also is sponsoring a general session on the eRate for the eSchool News Grants & Funding for School Technology West conference, to be held in San Diego April 29-30. The general session, titled “eRate Update: Current Perspectives and Analysis,” features SLD President Kate Moore, who will brief attendees on the latest rules, requirements, and timetables affecting nearly $2 billion in discounts. Visit http://www.eschoolnews.com for the latest information on the conference.