47 CFR § 54.623 - Funding requests.

§ 54.623 Funding requests.

(a) Once a service provider is selected, applicants must submit a Request for Funding (and supporting documentation) to provide information about the services, equipment, or facilities selected; rates, service provider(s); and date(s) of service provider selection, as applicable.

(1) Certifications. The applicant must provide the following certifications as part of its Request for Funding:

(i) The person signing the application is authorized to submit the application on behalf of the health care provider or consortium.

(ii) The applicant has examined the form and all attachments, and to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief, all statements of fact contained in this section are true.

(iii) The health care provider or consortium has considered all bids received and selected the most cost-effective method of providing the requested services.

(iv) All Rural Health Care Program support will be used only for eligible health care purposes.

(v) The health care provider or consortium is not requesting support for the same service from both the Telecommunications Program and the Healthcare Connect Fund Program.

(vi) The health care provider or consortium and/or its consultant, if applicable, has not solicited or accepted a gift or any other thing of value from a service provider participating in or seeking to participate in the Rural Health Care Program.

(vii) The applicant satisfies all of the requirements under section 254 of the Act and applicable Commission rules and understands that any letter from the Administrator that erroneously commits funds for the benefit of the applicant may be subject to rescission.

(viii) The applicant has reviewed all applicable rules and requirements for the Rural Health Care Program and will comply with those rules and requirements.

(ix) The applicant will retain all documentation associated with the applications, including all bids, contracts, scoring matrices, and other information associated with the competitive bidding process, and all billing records for services received, for a period of at least five years.

(x) The consultants or third parties hired by the applicant do not have an ownership interest, sales commission arrangement, or other financial stake in the service provider chosen to provide the requested services, and that they have otherwise complied with the Rural Health Care Program rules, including the Commission's rules requiring a fair and open competitive bidding process.

(xi) Additional certification for the Telecom Program. Telecom Program applicants must certify that the rural rate on their Request for Funding does not exceed the appropriate rural rate determined by the Administrator.

(2) Contracts or other documentation. All applicants must submit a contract or other documentation, as applicable, that clearly identifies the service provider(s) selected and the health care provider(s) who will receive the services; costs for which support is being requested; and the term of the service agreement(s) if applicable (i.e., if services are not being provided on a month-to-month basis). For services provided under contract, the applicant must submit a copy of the contract signed and dated (after the Allowable Contract Selection Date) by the individual health care provider or Consortium Leader. If the services are not being provided under contract, the applicant must submit a bill, service offer, letter, or similar document from the service provider that provides the required information.

(3) Competitive bidding documents. Applicants must submit documentation to support their certifications that they have selected the most cost-effective option, including a copy of each bid received (winning, losing, and disqualified), the bid evaluation criteria, and the following documents (as applicable): Completed bid evaluation worksheets or matrices; explanation for any disqualified bids; a list of people who evaluated bids (along with their title/role/relationship to the applicant organization); memos, board minutes, or similar documents related to the service provider selection/award; copies of notices to winners; and any correspondence with service providers prior to and during the bidding, evaluation, and award phase of the process. Applicants who claim a competitive bidding exemption must submit relevant documentation to allow the Administrator to verify that the applicant is eligible for the claimed exemption.

(4) Cost allocation for ineligible entities or components. Where applicable, applicants must submit a description of how costs will be allocated for ineligible entities or components, as well as any agreements that memorialize such arrangements with ineligible entities.

(5) Additional documentation for Healthcare Connect Fund Program consortium applicants. A consortium applicant must also submit the following:

(i) Any revisions to the network plan submitted with the Request for Services pursuant to § 54.622, as necessary. If not previously submitted, the consortium should provide a narrative description of how the network will be managed, including all administrative aspects of the network, including, but not limited to, invoicing, contractual matters, and network operations. If the consortium is required to provide a sustainability plan as set forth in the following, the revised budget should include the budgetary factors discussed in the sustainability plan requirements.

(ii) A list of each participating health care provider and all of their relevant information, including eligible (and ineligible, if applicable) cost information.

(iii) Evidence of a viable source for the undiscounted portion of supported costs.

(iv) Sustainability plans for applicants requesting support for long-term capital expenses: Consortia that seek funding to construct and own their own facilities or obtain indefeasible right of use or capital lease interests are required to submit a sustainability plan with their funding requests demonstrating how they intend to maintain and operate the facilities that are supported over the relevant time period. Applicants may include by reference other portions of their applications (e.g., project management plan, budget). The sustainability plan must, at a minimum, address the following points:

(A) Projected sustainability period. Indicate the sustainability period, which at a minimum is equal to the useful life of the funded facility. The consortium's budget must show projected income and expenses (i.e., for maintenance) for the project at the aggregate level, for the sustainability period.

(B) Principal factors. Discuss each of the principal factors that were considered by the participant to demonstrate sustainability. This discussion must include all factors that show that the proposed network will be sustainable for the entire sustainability period. Any factor that will have a monetary impact on the network must be reflected in the applicant's budget.

(C) Terms of membership in the network. Describe generally any agreements made (or to be entered into) by network members (e.g., participation agreements, memoranda of understanding, usage agreements, or other similar agreements). The sustainability plan must also describe, as applicable:

(1) Financial and time commitments made by proposed members of the network;

(2) If the project includes excess bandwidth for growth of the network, describe how such excess bandwidth will be financed; and

(3) If the network will include ineligible health care providers and other network members, describe how fees for joining and using the network will be assessed.

(D) Ownership structure. Explain who will own each material element of the network (e.g., fiber constructed, network equipment, end user equipment). For purposes of this subsection, “ownership” includes an indefeasible right of use interest. Applicants must clearly identify the legal entity that will own each material element. Applicants must also describe any arrangements made to ensure continued use of such elements by the network members for the duration of the sustainability period.

(E) Sources of future support. Describe other sources of future funding, including fees to be paid by eligible health care providers and/or non-eligible entities.

(F) Management. Describe the management structure of the network for the duration of the sustainability period. The applicant's budget must describe how management costs will be funded.

(v) Material change to sustainability plan. A consortium that is required to file a sustainability plan must maintain its accuracy. If there is a material change to a required sustainability plan that would impact projected income or expenses by more than 20 percent or $100,000 from the previous submission, or if the applicant submits a funding request based on a new Request for Funding (i.e., a new competitively bid contract), the consortium is required to re-file its sustainability plan. In the event of a material change, the applicant must provide the Administrator with the revised sustainability plan no later than the end of the relevant quarter, clearly showing (i.e., by redlining or highlighting) what has changed.

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