On March 16, 2017, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released an Order granting two waivers relating to the E-rate program’s invoicing rules. The waivers address problems resulting from backlogs in USAC’s processing of applications for new 498 IDs (formerly SPIN numbers) and PIN requests. The backlog accumulated in the wake of recent rule changes that require electronic filing of FCC Form 472 direct reimbursement requests (the “BEAR” form).

First, the Bureau waived the requirement in rule 54.514(b) that applicants utilizing the BEAR invoicing process obtain an extension of time prior to the filing deadline, if USAC had not issued a 498 ID or PIN needed to file for that extension by October 31, 2016. Without the waiver, applicants would have been prevented from getting reimbursed through a BEAR process. The order gave applicants an additional 30 days to submit their invoices.

Second, the Bureau granted a waiver of its invoice deadline rules to nine school and library petitioners that had properly requested an automatic 120-day invoice deadline extension for funding year 2014 due in part to USAC’s inability to timely process the extension requests. In each case, the Bureau found that the petitioner had made good-faith efforts to comply with the rules.

The Bureau stressed that these waivers were necessitated by one-time backlogs that USAC has since remedied.