(a) No consideration of borrower’s level of general funds
The Secretary shall not deny or reduce any loan or loan advance under this chapter based on a borrower’s level of general funds.
(b) Loan origination fees
The Secretary may not charge any fee or charge not expressly provided in this chapter in connection with any loan made or guaranteed under this chapter.
(c) Consultants (1) In general
To facilitate timely action on applications by borrowers for financial assistance under this chapter and for approvals required of the Rural Electrification Administration pursuant to the terms of outstanding loan or security instruments or otherwise, the Secretary may use consultants funded by the borrower, paid for out of the general funds of the borrower, for financial, legal, engineering, and other technical advice and services in connection with the review of the application by the Rural Electrification Administration.
(2) Conflicts of interest
The Secretary shall establish procedures for the selection and the provision of technical services by consultants to ensure that the consultants have no financial or other conflicts of interest in the outcome of the application of the borrower.
(3) Payment of costs
The Secretary may not, without the consent of the borrower, require, as a condition of processing an application for approval, that the borrower agree to pay the costs, fees, and expenses of consultants hired to provide technical or advisory services to the Secretary.
(4) Contracts, grants, and agreements
The Secretary may enter into such contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements as are necessary to carry out this section.
(5) Use of consultants
Nothing in this subsection shall limit the authority of the Secretary to retain the services of consultants from funds made available to the Secretary or otherwise.
AMENDMENTS 2018—Subsecs. (a), (b). Pub. L. 115–334 struck out "and the Governor of the telephone bank" after "The Secretary". 1994—Pub. L. 103–354 substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator" wherever appearing. 1993—Pub. L. 103–129 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), inserted heading, and added subsecs. (b) and (c).
7 U.S.C. § 918 (2018)