Competitive bidding starts when you submit an FCC Form 470 and ends at least 28 days later File Along with Me, when you evaluate bids, select a vendor, and begin filling out your FCC Form 471.
The steps to the E-rate Program’s competitive bidding process are:
- Describe your requirements and needs by filling out FCC Form 470.
- You can also write up your requirements formally in a Request for Proposal (RFP) document; some state/local regulations require this.
- Submit FCC Form 470 to post the requirements, so vendors can start bidding.
- There is no response deadline unless you set one. However, you’re not allowed to start evaluating (or selecting) offers until the “allowable vendor selection/contract date” listed on your receipt notification (confirmation) letter.
- If you’re requesting support for leased dark fiber, there are additional requirements (on-demand training is available about this topic).
- While you’re waiting to hear from potential sellers, select a standard way to compare and evaluate their offers.
- How important is each characteristic (factor) in your selection decision?
- E-rate calls this your evaluation criteria and suggests that you make a bid evaluation matrix.
- Price needs to be weighted more heavily than anything else, but the sum of the other factors can outweigh the lowest cost.
- On the “allowable vendor selection/contract date,” or the end of your competitive bidding period, compare and evaluate all of the offers/bids you received.
- Use your evaluation criteria and bid evaluation matrix as a guide.
- Select the seller who can provide the best value to your organization.
- You are required to select the most cost-effective offer, which will not necessarily be the lowest-cost offer.
About evaluation criteria
Evaluation criteria is a list of features you’re interested in, that you will use later to evaluate the responses from potential vendors.
After potential vendors respond to your FCC Form 470, judge their responses based on the evaluation criteria you developed. Use it to evaluate how successfully they addressed your needs/concerns.
Learn more about Competitive Bidding and the 28-Day Waiting Period on the E-rate Program website.
E-rate Program rules require you make sure that the process is “open and fair” to all potential service providers. In the next post, we’ll go into more detail about what that means.