Before submitting the FCC Form 465 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form), eligible health care providers (HCPs) should develop the evaluation criteria to be used to select a service provider. RHC strongly recommends that HCPs develop a scoring matrix, or a list of weighted evaluation criteria, that they will use in evaluating bids submitted for the services requested on the FCC Form 465. The selection criteria should include the most important criteria needed to provide health care.
Some examples could include, but are not limited to:
Once the HCP has developed its evaluation criteria, it should assign a weight to each in order of importance. For instance, if cost is the most important criteria, the HCP may assign a weight of 40 percent to cost, with other criteria receiving a lesser weight (with the total weight equaling 100 percent). Each bid received should be scored against the determined criteria, ensuring they are all evaluated equally. HCPs may contact RHC for a sample scoring sheet, keeping in mind that the criteria should be developed based on the needs of each individual HCP, not the example provided.
The FCC Form 465 is the first form in the application process that enables a health care provider to request bids for telecommunications or Internet services from service providers, and certifies to USAC that the HCP is eligible to participate in the Rural Health Care Program.
Once the FCC Form 465 is submitted and approved, USAC will post the completed form on its website, which provides information about the HCP's service needs to potential service providers. Once the FCC Form 465 has been posted, it begins the mandatory 28-day competitive bidding process, during which service providers may contact the HCP to discuss its service needs.
In addition to posting an FCC Form 465 on the USAC website, a health care provider may choose to provide additional information about its service needs by issuing a request for proposals (RFP). Issuing an RFP does not exempt an HCP from the requirement to submit an FCC Form 465 or the competitive bidding period before contracting for services, but it does provide an opportunity to specify detailed requirements about the HCP's needs that might exceed the space allotted on the FCC Form 465.
HCPs whose previously-submitted FCC Form 465 has been posted on the RHC website can register for electronic certification (e-certification). E-certification allows an HCP to electronically sign the FCC Form 465 so it can be immediately posted on the USAC website in future funding years.
HCPs and service providers are cautioned not to enter into a service agreement or sign a contract prior to the end of the required competitive bidding period. Doing so will result in a forfeiture of support for the entire funding year. However, service providers may contact health care providers directly during this time to discuss rates and conditions for providing service. USAC is not involved in contract negotiations between health care providers and service providers.