Competitive Bidding & FCC Form 470
You can file an FCC Form 470 for FY2024 now. The FCC Form 470 for FY2024 became available on July 1, 2023.
In general, a Request for Proposals (RFP) is a formal bidding document that describes a project and requested services in sufficient detail so that potential bidders understand the scope, location, and any other requirements. An RFP may be known by a variety of names, for example, an Invitation for Bids (IFB) or Request for Quotes (RFQ). In most instances, RFPs are not specifically required as part of the E-Rate program, but you must issue one if it is required by FCC rules or by your state or local competitive bidding or procurement rules.
We use “RFP” or “RFP document” generically to refer to any bidding document issued as part of your competitive bidding process that describes your project and requested services in more detail than in the data fields provided on the FCC Form 470. If you are issuing an RFP and/or one or more RFP documents, you are required to upload those documents to your FCC Form 470. Applicants should make sure their latest RFP is available for a full 28 days before selecting a service provider.
Applicants must wait a minimum of 28 calendar days before selecting a service provider. This means that they may select a service provider on or after the 29th day from the day they certified the FCC Form 470 including any days that fall on weekends or holidays.
- To assist applicants and ensure they meet their 28-day minimum, EPC calculates the date when their 28-day waiting period ends. USAC refers to this date as the Allowable Contract Date or ACD. The ACD can be found in the Receipt Notification Letter posted on your News tab in EPC. The letter is posted shortly after you certify your FCC Form 470.
- If you make a substantive change to the scope of your project and/or the services you are requesting, you must restart your 28-day waiting period on the day you make the change – for example, if you post a new Request for Proposal (RFP) document to your FCC Form 470. In this case, you must count the 28 days yourself – EPC does not re-calculate a new ACD for you. When in doubt, restart your 28-day waiting period.
- Remember, the 28-day waiting period is a minimum requirement. You can wait longer than 28 days.
You can make the following changes to a certified FCC Form 470:
- Edit the nickname you created for your form.
- Change the main contact person on the form.
- Edit the technical contact person you identified on the form.
- Add an RFP document.
- If you did not add at least one RFP document to your FCC Form 470 before it was submitted and certified, you will have to submit and certify a new FCC Form 470 in order to be able to attach an RFP document.
- If you issue an RFP document AFTER an FCC Form 470 is submitted and certified, you MUST upload the RFP document to that certified FCC Form 470 or submit a new FCC Form 470, as explained above.
- Navigate to the form in EPC. You can do this in two ways:
- Go to the bottom of your landing page and search for and locate your form using the search criteria provided, or
- Click the Records tab, choose FCC Forms 470, and use the search criteria provided to locate your form.
- Choose Related Actions from the menu.
- Click the link for the action you want to take from the menu.
We strongly recommend updating the entities in your EPC entity profile before you start a form. CSC can help you create entities, add and remove entities, and create annexes as needed. If you do this work before you submit and certify your FCC Form 470, the number of entities should be correct.
However, if your entity count is still not correct, you can add an RFP document to your form to explain the discrepancy (for example, if services are delivered to annexes that have a different address but EPC did not count them as separate entities). Remember, though, that you must have attached at least one RFP document to your form in order to add another RFP document after the form is certified. Otherwise, you must create a new FCC Form 470.
You may not be sure exactly where on the FCC Form 470 to list a particular product or service. If the product or service appears to fit into more than one category of service or service type, you should:
- List the product or service under all of the categories or service types where it fits, and
- Provide a detailed explanation of the services you are requesting in the narrative field of the FCC Form 470 and/or your RFP or RFP document.
No. There are some limited situations where applicants do not need to submit and certify an FCC Form 470:
- If you have a multi-year contract that is still in effect and the costs/services are still within the terms of the establishing FCC Form 470. However, you do need to file a new FCC Form 471 each funding year and use the prior supporting FCC Form 470.
- Commercially Available Business class Internet Option (CABIO) Category 1 (C1) services are exempt from the FCC Form 470 posting requirement if they meet certain requirements.
- Category Two (C2) equipment or services requested by libraries totaling a pre-discount cost of $3,600 or less annually per library are exempt from the FCC Form 470 posting requirement if they meet certain requirements.
Yes. If you are receiving services under tariff or on a month-to-month basis, you must file an FCC Form 470 each year.
You do not have to file an FCC Form 470 if:
- You are under a multi-year contract that covers your services for the upcoming funding year.
- You have a contract with voluntary extensions, and you and your service provider agree to exercise an extension that covers your services for the upcoming funding year.
- You order a commercially available, business-class internet access service that meets specific requirements
The clearest way to proceed is to submit and certify a new FCC Form 470 and include all of the services you want on that form and its associated RFP and/or RFP documents. If you attached an RFP document to the original form, you can attach another document to your original form to notify bidders that they should use the information in the new FCC Form 470 (include the new FCC Form 470 number) instead of the original one.
You may also attach one or more RFP documents to your existing form, if you attached at least one RFP document to that form before it was certified, to add the services that were omitted. Keep in mind that the addition of those services will probably be a substantial change, and you must restart your 28-day waiting period from the date you add the document to your FCC Form 470. If you are unsure whether adding a new service is a substantial change, err on the side of caution and restart the 28-day waiting period.
A third option is to submit and certify a new FCC Form 470 that contains only the additional services. If you choose this option, be very clear whether you want bids that include all of the products and services in both FCC Forms 470, or if you are willing to accept separate bids for the services included on each form.
For more information on the FCC Form 470 and the competitive bidding process, you can refer to the following resources available on the USAC website:
- Applicant Step 1 – Competitive Bidding
- Applicant Step 2 – Selecting Service Providers
- Instructional videos on how to file the FCC Form 470.
Other guidance documents
You can solicit bids. If you are currently receiving service from a service provider, you can consider your existing service – for example, by using a current bill – as a bid response. We suggest that you check with your service provider to be sure they are willing to continue your current service at your current rates.
- If the rates may be going up or the services are changing, it would be helpful to get that information in writing or by email from your service provider
- Be sure to verify that any changes in your current service are within the scope of your posted FCC Form 470
You may also be eligible to purchase services under a state master contract negotiated by your state government.
As above, send yourself an email or create a memo to the file indicating that you did not receive any bids and describe the actions that you took (e.g., you solicited bids or you used a bill from your current service provider). Keep that email or memo with your other competitive bidding
Yes, but only if it is cost-effective. If the service does not appear to be cost-effective based on your evaluation, you can solicit bids from other service providers and evaluate those bids as well.
If the bid is cost-effective, send yourself an email or create a memo to the file indicating that you only received one bid. Retain that email or memo and your evaluation with your other competitive bidding documentation.
No. You choose the evaluation factor(s) you will use to evaluate the bids you receive. You can choose as many or as few factors as you like.
You must include the price of the equipment and services that are eligible for E-Rate discounts as an evaluation factor, and that price factor must be weighted more heavily than any other single factor in your evaluation.
As a service provider, you should use the FCC Form 470 tool to search and view certified FCC Form 470 service requests.
Another tool you can use is the Open Data platform. It allows users to view, filter and search for FCC Form 470, and extract a variety of data about posted Form 470s, such as the scope of the work, the category of service requested, geographic location, applicant type and other information.
Once you find a request on which you want to bid, review the FCC Form 470 carefully, especially the narrative sections. Look for any attachments or Request for Proposals, or “RFP documents.” Applicants who have specific requirements on preparing and submitting bids should provide that information there.
If there are no specific requirements provided, contact the contact person (or the technical contact person, if one is identified) for any additional information. Do not submit questions or bids directly to USAC.
Yes, you may submit a bid after the Allowable Contract Date. However, many applicants may select a service provider on the Allowable Contract date, and applicants are not required to consider bids received after they have selected a service provider.
To avoid confusion, applicants are encouraged to include a date when bids are due or will no longer be considered. Service Providers are also encouraged to submit bids within 28 calendar days after an FCC Form 470 is posted as well.
All bids received including “SPAM” bids, “Robobids”, and unresponsive bids should be acknowledged during the competitive bidding process. Disqualification factors can be applied to bids received that do not meet minimum bid requirements, do not include site- or project-specific details, and/or are not responsive to the applicant’s requests. Applicants may include language in their FCC Form 470 narrative or request for proposal (RFP), such as, “SPAM and/or robotic responses will not be considered valid bid responses and will be disqualified from consideration.” By doing this, applicants can acknowledge the response(s) were received but were disqualified, based on this factor. The decision to disqualify any non-responsive bids should also be memorialized and retained to demonstrate compliance with the competitive bidding rules.