Congress has given schools temporary relief from an accounting rule that for months has stalled nearly all the school and library telecommunications projects that were to be subsidized by the federal E-rate program.
Under a bill passed Dec. 8 and signed by President Bush on Dec. 23, the E-rate program will be exempted for one year from the Anti-Deficiency Act, a federal law which, when applied to the program last summer, required officials to have money on hand for all grant awards. The program distributes some $2.25 billion a year to schools and libraries.
Because of the requirement, the program was suspended in August. The Universal Services Administrative Co. converted securities into cash and resumed awarding grants in November at the rate of only a trickle. (“E-Rate Program Told to Direct Money to Schools Now,” Oct. 13, 2004.)
Congress acted after complaints from organizations representing schools, libraries, and telephone companies, and a request Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael K. Powell.
A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week