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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Training day

So here I am in DC at the first training. Some impressions from the first day:

So I was checking out my idea that no one says "SLD" any more, only USAC. I think I only heard "SLD" once: when Scott Barash was talking about the history of the program. Mel Blackwell said "Schools & Libraries Corporation" a couple of times when talking about old times.

I hadn't heard Scott Barash speak since he became head of USAC, so I was pleased to hear him refer to applicants and service providers as "our customers." He also said: "We value your input.... We're listening." I know, just because he says it doesn't make it so, but when the leadership of an organization says something, it has an effect. So it was good to hear Mel Blackwell (whom I would call the head of the SLD, but no one says "SLD" any more, so I'm kind of stuck) say, "We're trying to be more friendly and tell you more of what to do."

Mr. Blackwell also said he'd like to get appeals "down to zero," and pointed out that appeals are going down. Not to be a spoilsport, but at least part of that is because there's no point in appealing to USAC any more: just go straight to the FCC. And there will be some upward pressure now that we can include new info in appeals. Long term, though, the number of appeals will go down, because they've finally listened to me, and are going to send out "you're about to be denied, here's why, and here's what to do about it" letters.

Mel also said that he wanted to shorten the window, though not this year. What he really wants to do is move up the 471 deadline, so that they can get a better jump on processing applications. Wrong. Move up the deadline, and applicants will howl. On the other hand, announce that applications will be processed on a "first-in, first-out" basis, and applicants will start filing earlier. It's all about incentives.

If you were hoping for an update on rule changes, you'll have to wait for tomorrow at least.

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