Competitive Bidding Process
The competitive bidding process is launched when an FCC Form 470 is posted to the EPC portal.
At this point...
- You start receiving bids from service providers
- You wait at least 28 days after the date the FCC Form 470 was posted and the date the RFP was issued (if applicable), whichever is later
- during this 28 day period you must ensure an open and fair bidding process
- during the 28 days make no bid evaluations, select no service providers, and sign no contracts
- the 28 days for RFPs is independent of the 28 days for the Form 470 posting ... make sure you count your days correctly and let 28 days run on both
To ensure an open and fair competitive bidding process, bear in mind the following guidelines:
- Treat all bidders the same
- Give equal and consistent information to all bidders
- Do not give insider information or advance knowledge to bidders
- Accept no gifts from bidders
- Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with a bidder
- Service providers are not allowed to assist with the process
- Keep a record of all bids received (not just the winning bid)
- Respond to all bidders
- Keep copies of all correspondence with bidders
Have a written process for evaluating bids equally.
- Identify the criteria for selection prior to selecting your provider.
- Disqualification factors must be yes/no responses and cannot be scored on a range.
Complete a bid evaluation document, even if you just received one bid.
Choose the bid that is most cost-effective.
- You may consider as many factors in your evaluation as you want, but the price of the E-Rate eligible products and services must be included as a factor and must be weighted more heavily than any other single factor. Other factors besides cost-effectiveness might be prior experience of the provider, qualification of personnel, financial stability of the company, service that meets the needs of your school/library, in-state preference.
- If you received one bid, and that bid is cost-effective, you should memorialize that fact with a memo or email for your records.
- If you did not receive any bids, you can solicit bids. If you currently receive service from a service provider, you can ask your current provider to submit information in response to your Form 470.
Date the completed bid evaluation document to show you waited at least 28 days to make your service provider selection.
If as a result of the competitive bidding process you decide that none of the bids received is responsive and reject all of them - or if you decide to cancel the competitive bidding process for other reasons - you must file a new FCC Form 470 to open a new competitive bidding process.
Before posting a new form and issuing a new RFP, make any desired revisions or changes that might improve its chances of receiving responsive bids.
In the event of a complete rejection or cancellation, you cannot use the earlier Form 470 nor cite that form on a Form 471. To avoid any confusion, cancel the earlier Form 470.
Except for services to be delivered under non-contracted tariffed or month-to-month arrangements, applicants must sign a contract or other legally binding agreement with the winning service provider.
You must not sign a contract before the Allowable Contract Award Date noted on the Form 470 Receipt Notification Letter.
In addition, the contract must be signed and dated by the applicant prior to the Form 471 certification date. The contract may be for one or more years and may include the option of voluntary extensions.