As has been widely reported, a partial federal government shutdown appears imminent at midnight tonight (September 30) due to a lapse of Congressional appropriations. The FCC has issued a shutdown plan, which details the agency’s plans for temporarily suspending the vast majority of its operations during the shutdown. In particular, we understand that it will be impossible to make any regulatory filings with the FCC during the shutdown, including electronic filings via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”). 

On the other hand, because the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) is an independent, non-for-profit company and not a federal agency, its operations will continue during the federal shutdown. As a result, the disbursement of Lifeline funds to ETCs are not expected to be disrupted. 

Depending on the duration of the federal shutdown, it may impact the deadline for FCC Form 481 filings with the FCC. Currently, ETCs providing Lifeline-supported services are required to file the FCC Form 481 with the FCC, USAC and state commissions by October 15. The filing deadline will not be changed for filings with USAC or state commissions, but if the shutdown continues until October 15, the Form 481 filing presumably will be due to be filed with the FCC the first business day after the agency reopens.