Technology Planning for Public Libraries
Several changes have been made in the E-rate program because of the 6th Report and Order that went into effect on January 3, 2011. Two of the changes directly affect the library Technology Plan.
First, an approved Technology Plan is no longer required for Internet Access funding. This means that if you file for discounts or reimbursement for Internet Access OR grant permission to another agency, such as MOREnet, to file on your behalf by completing a "Letter of Agency" and Form 479 for that agency, you no longer need to write a Technology Plan or submit to the state library for approval.
A Technology Plan does need to be written and approved before July 1 of the fiscal year if a library is filing for E-rate Priority 2 services, which includes "Internal Connections" and "Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections". If a library plans to file for these services during any of the next three years, an approved Technology Plan must be in place. The Missouri State Library maintains a list of public libraries and the due date of the next Technology Plan under item 2 below.
Second, the budget element is no longer required to be included in the Technology Plan. The certifications still require that the library be able to show that it has budgeted for the non-discounted portion of the bills, so it is advised that the library's budget show a line for telephone costs and the Internet service cost including MOREnet membership fees.
The Missouri State Library will continue to evaluate and certify technology plans for public libraries that need an approved Technology Plan on file due to the library's filing for Priority 2 services. Should a public library plan to file for Priority 2 services, including "Internal Connections" and "Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections", please notify Jean Morrison so that she can work with you on completion, evaluation, and approval of your library's Technology Plan.
General planning requirements:
Approved Technology Plans should cover a period of not more than three years. All approved plans should include provisions for evaluating progress toward the plan’s goals, and these assessments should occur on an annual basis.
There is no need to write a specific E-rate technology plan, if the library has another plan covering its technology goals that includes a sufficient level of information to justify and validate the purpose of the E-rate request.
The FCC approval of an applicant’s technology plan by a USAC Certified Technology Plan Approver.
Adapted from a web posting by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC): http://www.universalservice.org/sl/applicants/step01/default.aspx
See the ‘Sample Technology Plan Certification Form’ for a checklist of the planning requirements. The State Library is required to review plans submitted by libraries in relation to how well the plan meets each of these requirements. If some of the technology plan requirements are covered in your library’s long-range plan, you may submit the long-range plan plus a ‘technology plan’ to cover the remaining requirements. For example, the technology goals and objectives, as well as the professional development requirement, may be addressed in your library’s long-range plan. Please indicate the pages or sections of the long-range plan that you feel meet the requirements for certification.
Assistance for plan development:
Help in writing technology plans is available from several sources.
Missouri Public Libraries are required to submit a Technology Plan Update Form annually.
USAC web page includes a general description of the technology plan requirements. http://www.sl.universalservice.org/apply/step2.asp
USAC link to complete the forms to apply online is at: http://www.sl.universalservice.org/menu.asp
www.Webjunction.org, the portal developed by the Gates Library Foundation to assist public libraries has extensive links and assistance. This site includes sample technology plans and a link to TechAtlas, an online assistance to developing the library’s technology inventory. See the technology planning section under ‘policies and practices.’
The Missouri State Library also offers a technology plan development guide at Technology Planning Guidelines for Missouri Public Libraries.
Information on e-rate and the e-rate application process is available on the MOREnet website at E-Rate (Universal Service Fund).
The ALA E-rate Task Force has released a list of items that must be retained for Audit purposes. Items in this list should be kept for 5 years: E-rate Documentation Retention Requirements. The FCC also provides a link to the FCC Fifth Report and Order that covers document retention.