WHEREAS, technology is transforming how we receive and share information, and, in turn, it is empowering people to change their lives and the life of their community; and

WHEREAS, the Universal Service Fund provides financial support in four programs: High Cost-- providing financial support to companies providing telecom services to highcost areas of America; Low-Income-- giving service discounts to qualifying low-income consumers, which allows many urban communities technology services that they would not otherwise receive; Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) -- providing support for linking classrooms and libraries to the telecom network and the Internet; and Rural Health Care -- supporting the linking of rural health care providers to urban medical centers to enable patients living in rural areas to access advanced diagnostic and other medical services available in urban communities; and

WHEREAS, the Universal Service Fund’s E-Rate program provides discounts to public and private schools, and public libraries for telecommunications service, Internet access, and internal connections in situations where such technology would not be available without such a fund; and

WHEREAS, when the E-Rate program commenced operation in 1998, only 14% of public school instructional classrooms were connected to the internet; as of 2003, classroom Internet access reached 93%. In addition, nearly all public libraries are now able to offer Internet access to their patrons; and

WHEREAS, $13.6 billion in discounts were granted through October 2004; and

WHEREAS, the E-Rate program is crucial in enabling schools and libraries to upgrade their networks to meet the evolving needs of their students and library users; and

WHEREAS, the E-Rate is the largest and single most important source of education technology funding to K-12 schools and libraries and not only provides $2.25 billion annually in discounts to schools and public libraries, but also leverages these resources to address their comprehensive learning and technology needs; and

WHEREAS, the critical nature of the E-Rate fund is very visible because each funding year requests for E-Rate discounts significantly exceeds the $2.25 billion annual availability; and

WHEREAS, sufficient and up-to-date technology in public schools and libraries is imperative in meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and providing for professional development that enables teachers to apply technology in the classroom to assist students in attaining high standards and skills; and

WHEREAS, technology in education is critical to ensure the vitality of economic and workforce development, in economic empowerment of underserved communities, and in keeping up with the global economy and a rapidly increasing technology based society; and WHEREAS; only with the continued support of the E-rate program will school libraries in inner city districts be able to provide broadband access to all students and libraries as well as enabling public and private schools and libraries to afford the bandwidth they require; and

WHEREAS, lack of an exemption from the Anti-Deficiency Act will create adverse affects for mayors and their cities, as indicated in an informal survey conducted by USCM in November 2004 where one-third of the cities responding to the survey were in dire situations because of the funding freeze and two-thirds of these cities indicated there would be a large problem if E-Rate funds were not allocated by the end of the 2004-2005 school year; and

WHEREAS, the Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring “obligations” in excess of cash-on-hand or invested in federal securities, thus suspending E-Rate commitment letters to schools and libraries; and

WHEREAS, application of the Anti-Deficiency Act to programs managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company by OMB demanded a change in accounting methodology, requiring the USAC to have funds in hand before making a grant commitments rather than basing such commitments on projections of funds, thus halting the flow of dollars to schools and libraries eligible to receive monies; and

WHEREAS, without a permanent exemption from the Anti- Deficiency Act, distribution of E-Rate funds would be suspended, thus putting many schools and libraries in a technology crisis; and

WHEREAS, in 2004 monetary requests exceeded money on hand by $1.5 billion and therefore USAC commitments of more than $300 million made to school and libraries were delayed until Congress exempted the E-Rate for one-year from the Anti-Deficiency Act,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Senate to pass S. 241, to provide a permanent exemption of the E-Rate from the Anti-Deficiency Act and the House to introduce and enact a companion piece of legislation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages state and local government to provide ample instruction on how to use such technology and incorporate it into the curriculum.

©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352