Back for its 10th year, our most popular webinar offers an in-depth discussion on the federal Universal Service Fund for participants in USF programs and for contributors to the Fund. This webinar will address major developments in the four support funds and discuss the pressures on the USF contribution system in an era of 20% contribution rates. In addition, as usual, we will offer tips and insights into managing audits and investigations in these highly scrutinized programs.
We attended the Audit Committee meeting at USAC’s quarterly business meeting this morning. While much of the discussion concerned internal controls USAC has in place to oversee its functions, the business update portion of the meeting gave us a snapshot into contributor and beneficiary audit activity at USAC. The presentation gave us some insight into a likely increased amount of activity over the next few months.
With expenditures of nearly $9 billion annually, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) approximates the total revenue of the entire National Football League. It is no wonder that USF continues to dominate the Commission’s telecommunications agenda. In 2013, the Commission implemented most aspects of the new “Connect America Fund”, continued work on its 2012 Lifeline reforms, launched a Healthcare Connect Fund for rural healthcare providers and proposed substantial revisions to its E-rate program. In addition, the Commission issued dozens of orders in USF appeals, declaratory ruling requests and enforcement matters.
In this 5th annual webinar, Kelley Drye will walk you through the USF changes you need to know, with a focus on changes affecting the 2014 Form 499-A. We also will discuss how to ensure compliance during the year and offer tips for handling USF audits, PQAs, Lifeline IDVs and related inquiries. Our speakers will offer analysis and practical advice based on frontline experience in audits and appeals, and years of providing compliance and enforcement advice in this area.
The following topics will be addressed:
- Major Changes in the Fund’s Programs During 2013
- Changes to Reseller Revenue Procedures in 2014
- Changes in the 499-A Form and Instructions
- Significant Developments in the USF Audit and FCC Appeal Processes
- Lifeline, Contributions and E-rate Enforcement Actions
Kelley Drye speakers:
Steve Augustino, Partner
John Heitmann, Partner
February 27, 2014
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT
Please click here to register or contact Alexandra Meaza at 202.945.6674.
This webinar is free of charge. Presentation slides and a recording of the webinar will be available to registrants.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a study of the FCC’s e-rate program controls. The GAO study recommended that the FCC conduct a "robust risk assessment" of its e-rate program and revise the internal control structure of the program. What caught our eye, however, was the commentary on USAC’s e-rate beneficiary audits.
The GAO criticized USAC’s beneficiary audits as lacking documented and approved policies and procedures. As a result, "[USAC] management may not have the assurance that control activities are appropriate and properly applied." It specifically criticized USAC for not using information gathered from the audits to assess and modify the e-rate program’s internal controls. As an example, the GAO noted that of 64 beneficiaries that were audited multiple times over a three year period, 56 percent of the beneficiaries (36 of 64) had the same audit finding in multiple years.
The full GAO report is available here.