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Monday, February 25, 2008

Putting the "Power" in "PowerPoint"

Another FCC decision, another 8 appeals granted. But wait, one appeal was denied. Why? Because the applicant admitted that the service provider had: 1) advised the applicant in determining the types of services it needed and for which it would seek bids; 2) assisted the applicant in filling out the FCC Form 470; and 3) submitted the FCC Form 470 from the service provider’s office.

OK, that does smell bad, but here's what jumped out at me. In part, the denial was based on information that was given during the SLD's training in 2001. What!? Does this mean that I should have been taking notes during those skits?

Seriously, since when are those presentations authoritative? I have always treated those presentations as USAC's best understanding of the FCC's rules. For the FCC to quote one of the presentations seems to me to be the FCC following a USAC rule.

Also, none of the applicants or service providers were allowed to attend those training presentations. In 2001, USAC held "train-the-trainer" workshops, which could only be attended by something like 4 people from each state. And there aren't even any real handouts from those training sessions, only the PowerPoint slides. Were we really supposed to treat a bunch of PowerPoint slides as rules?

I'm all for limiting service provider involvement in the application process, but the FCC needs to do that by actually creating and publishing rules, not by stretching previous appeal decisions and citing USAC training slides. Even better, the FCC should bow out of the procurement regulation business, and let state law handle it.

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