Reading the eSchool News today highlights the GAO's report. A separate company, Funds for Learning LLC, found about $5 Billion in unused funds for the eRate program. A provision in the eRate program says that those funds can be rolled over, but that this "gap" is still an alarming trend in the oversight and administration of eRate because it continues year after year.
It takes the business manager and myself to go through eRate for our school. We are incredibly small, and I shudder to think what some huge districts have to go through. They must have to pay a company to deal with eRate or at least have somebody full time to focus just on that process. It is an absolute mockery of what a "streamlined" process should be. Our district needs those funds and that program does work, but the competitive bidding process is a joke, the whole thing is a slush fund. Good grief it needs fixing.
It sounds like the similar nonsense doctors deal with regarding insurance companies, Medicare and Medicade. The forms, the accounting, the policy rabbit-trails are onerous by design in order to discourage use. That goes the same for tax exemptions and credits, applying for welfare, etc. In some cases it can be a good thing but when policy is so narrowly written that it excludes 80% of those it was intended to benefit, it becomes nothing more than a soapbox for a politican. "See what I gave you," they shout to the press, nevermind the fact it doesn't work.
This process is a big time-waster. All that effort and energy can be costly and takes resources from places where they're better served, like education and caring for sick patients.