Thank you for the recent article on eRate underutilization (“eRate funds go begging,” April 2004). The one factor you left out when explaining this turn of events is the mind-boggling learning curve needed to apply for funds. After performing this function for our library for one funding cycle (I was the third person in one year on which this task was dumped), I told the library board that next year I would pay out of my own pocket rather than go through the process again.

The funny thing is, the process should be fairly simple. Unfortunately, the instructions given are as arcane and useless as anything I’ve ever seen. (My career experience includes 15 years interpreting federal environmental regulations.) The web site for the program should win an award for unnecessary complexity and obscurity.

Given the eRate program is intended to deliver more than $2 billion a year to libraries and schools, you’d think they could hire someone who knows how to write–and think–intelligibly.

Mark Couhig (affiliation unknown)

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