When an applicant examines and evaluates the bids received for eligible services, it must select the most cost-effective bid. The price of the eligible products and services must be the primary factor in the evaluation, but does not have to be the sole factor.
Other relevant evaluation factors may include:
- prior experience including past performance;
- personnel qualifications including technical excellence;
- management capability including schedule compliance; or
- environmental objectives.
Note: The price factor cannot include ineligible costs. Ineligible services can be included in the evaluation, as long as they are in a separate price factor that is weighted less heavily (see Example 2 below).
Evaluation Example 1:
The following example meets program guidelines, as the price of the eligible products and services is weighted higher than any other single factor and does not include any ineligible cost factors:
|Price of the eligible products and services||30%|
Evaluation Example 2:
This second example includes an evaluation factor that addresses ineligible costs that an applicant might incur as a result of selecting a particular bid. Note that the price of the eligible products and services is still the primary factor, and the ineligible costs are included in a factor that is weighted less heavily.
|Price of the eligible products and services||50%|
|Ineligible cost factors||15%|
You should use the factors you choose for your evaluation to construct a bid evaluation matrix. Your matrix will assist you in your evaluation and also provide documentation of your process.
No Bids Received?
If you do not receive any bids in response to an FCC Form 470 or request for proposal (RFP), USAC suggests that you keep a written record of this fact. Various review processes, including audits, may occur after your competitive bidding process has ended, and this email or memo may be the only documentation of what happened.
If you do not receive any bids after your 28-day waiting period, you can contact service providers to solicit bids and can then review and evaluate any bids received as a result. However, remember that if you post a new FCC Form 470, issue a new RFP, or amend your existing RFP, you start a new 28-day waiting period.
Keep in mind that your state and local procurement rules may also require you to take certain actions when this situation occurs. As always, you must be in compliance with all of your state and local rules and regulations as well as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.
One Bid Received?
If you receive only one bid, we suggest that you keep a written record of this fact. This will help to document that you did not just keep only the winning bid.
Bid Disqualification Factors
You can set out specific requirements and disqualify bids that do not meet those requirements as long as you clearly identify the disqualification reasons on your FCC Form 470 and/or your RFP.
Disqualification reasons should be determined prior to any substantive bid evaluation.
Disqualification reasons cannot be scored on a range, but rather are binary – i.e., the service provider either meets the standard or does not meet the standard.
The following items are examples of bid disqualification reasons:
- Service provider must register with the state procurement office
- Service provider must have a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN), also known as the service provider’s 498 ID
- Service provider must have a CORES ID
- Service provider must be bonded
If an applicant specifies these four bid disqualification reasons on its FCC Form 470 and/or RFP, bids from service providers that do not meet all four requirements can be disqualified and not evaluated further. The remaining bids must then be evaluated with the price of the eligible products and services as the factor that is weighted most heavily in the bid evaluation.
Mandatory Walkthroughs and Bidders Conference
You can require that bidders participate in a walkthrough of your facility or attend a bidders conference in order to submit a bid. As long as you have clearly stated in your FCC Form 470 and/or RFP that not attending these events is a reason for disqualification, you can disqualify bids from service providers that were not present at these events.
However, you must be sure that all bidders had access to this information and have timely notice so that they have a reasonable opportunity to attend.
Note that if you use the walkthrough or bidders conference as the only opportunity to distribute the RFP, you must then wait at least 28 days from the date you last distributed the RFP and uploaded it to your FCC Form 470 before you can select your service provider.
Service Provider Evaluations
If you use a multi-tiered or multi-round evaluation process, the price of the eligible products and services must be the primary evaluation factor overall.
For example, let’s say that in the first round the applicant uses the following evaluation criteria:
- Price of the eligible products and services (50 points)
- Reference check (25 points)
- Prior experience with the district (25 points)
Bidders that do not receive at least 70 points in the first round are eliminated and not considered any further. In the second round, the applicant uses the following evaluation criteria:
- Price of the eligible products and services (40 points)
- Technical solution (35 points)
- Price of any ineligible products and services needed in order to make the solution work (25 points)
Although the applicant did not consider bids that did not meet the 70-point threshold, the first round’s subjective scoring – based on references and prior experience with the district – did not invalidate the bid evaluation process. In this example, overall the primary factor from the two rounds was the price of the eligible products and services (50 + 40 = 90 points).