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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Enough already

Someone has got to stop the ADA madness.

In their latest Washington Update for members, CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) talked about the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA). And the news is just depressing.

For those of you new to the program, back in 2004, the ADA shut down funding commitments for about 5 months because it was decided that the ADA applies to the Universal Service Fund, and the ADA is completely unsuited to the way the E-Rate program is funded. The 5-month pause in commitments was ended by a one-year exemption granted by Congress. Since then, Congress has continued to grant one-year exemptions each year.

Now CoSN is guessing that the next exemption will not be approved before the start of the year. I'm pretty sure that the current exemption will expire Dec. 31st, so for at least a little while, funding commitments will be suspended again. That's not such a disaster in January, but really, shouldn't the exemption be permanent now?

Unfortunately, when FCC Chairman Martin was asked by Rep. Markey if the E-Rate needed the ADA, he said no. Mystifying.

And CoSn, which knows a lot more about Congressional politics than I'll ever know, has linked the future of the ADA exemption with the political future of Sen. Stevens, who has been a supporter of the exemption (because he's from Alaska, where lots of schools really depend on the E-Rate to pay for incredibly expensive Internet connections). Unfortunately he's under indictment.

It's time for someone over at the Capitol to pass a permanent exemption, regardless of what Chairman Martin says. It's been 4 years.

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