Competitive Bidding Process
This weeks News Brief from the SLD has some great information regarding the bidding process. Please take a moment to read through it, as I think it will answer a lot of your questions on this process.
Receiving one bid – or no bids
If you receive only one bid or no bids in response to your FCC Form 470, you can contact service providers to solicit bids and can then review and evaluate any bids received as a result. You may wish to note that you received only one bid or did not receive any bids in an email to yourself or a memo to the file in case questions come up later (e.g., during a review or an audit).
Considering all bids received
After the applicant has waited at least 28 days, the applicant must carefully consider all of the bids received. Remember that bids can only be disqualified if the applicant spelled out the disqualification reasons in the FCC Form 470 or the RFP or both.
Applicants can use one or more factors in their bid evaluations, but the price of the E-rate eligible products and services must be considered a factor and must be weighted more heavily than any other single factor in the evaluation. If you need assistance constructing your evaluation documentation, there is a sample bid evaluation matrix on the USAC website for your reference.
After considering all bids, the applicant must choose the most cost-effective bid and, if the services are not provided under tariff or on a month-to-month basis, must have in place a legally binding agreement (a signed contract is the best evidence of a legally binding agreement) before filing the FCC Form 471.
Applicants and service providers must retain all documents related to the application for, receipt, and delivery of discounted services for at least 10 years after the last day of service delivered in a particular funding year. We suggest that you save final documents as they are produced during the competitive bidding process, as they may be more difficult to locate after the process has been completed.
Specifically, we recommend that you retain the following in your files (this list is not exhaustive):
- The FCC Form 470
- The RFP, if one is issued
- Questions from potential bidders and your answers
- Copies of winning and losing bids
- The final bid evaluation matrix and any supporting documentation
The contract, if one is signed.
Rejecting all bids/canceling a procurement
If the applicant decides that none of the bids received is responsive and rejects all of them – or if the applicant decides to cancel the competitive bidding process for other reasons – the applicant must file a new FCC Form 470 to open a new competitive bidding process. Before posting a new form and issuing a new RFP, the applicant could then make any desired revisions or changes that might improve its chances of receiving responsive bids. In the event of a complete rejection or cancellation, the applicant cannot use the earlier FCC Form 470 nor cite that form on an FCC Form 471 funding request. In fact, we suggest that the earlier FCC Form 470 be canceled to avoid any confusion.
Remember that the applicant must also be in compliance with all applicable state or local competitive bidding rules and regulations.
Making significant changes in the scope of a project and/or services requested
Applicants must post a new FCC Form 470 if they are making significant changes to the scope of the services requested on the FCC Form 470 and/or the RFP. Posting a new FCC Form 470 starts a new 28-day waiting period, so applicants must allow for that additional time. As stated above, applicants must also be in compliance with all applicable state or local competitive bidding rules and regulations – especially important if an RFP was also issued – and should consider canceling the earlier FCC Form 470 to avoid confusion.