Rural Health Care

Step 3 Prepare for Competitive Bidding

After determining eligibility, the next step requires the applicant to ensure a fair and open competitive bidding process by taking action to avoid potential conflicts of interest, developing criteria to evaluate submitted bids, and developing required documents describing their service needs.

Some applicants may be exempt from the competitive bidding requirements if they meet certain requirements or have a contract deemed evergreen by USAC.

Develop Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria are the standards against which all submitted bids are evaluated, and must be included on the FCC Form 461, Request for Services Form.

The evaluation criteria should include the most important criteria needed to provide health care as determined by the applicant, and be based on the FCC's definition of most cost-effective. The FCC defines this as the method that costs the least after consideration of the features, quality of transmission, reliability, and other factors that the health care provider deems relevant to choosing a method of providing the required health care services.

Cost must be a primary factor. Although other factors may receive the same weight as cost, no single factor can receive a weight that is greater than cost. Applicants should assign a weight to each evaluation criterion in order of importance, and use the criteria to score each bid received to ensure all bids are evaluated equally before a contract is signed (after the allowable contract sign date, or ACSD).

Applicants may find the following suggested criteria to be sufficient to determine the most cost-effective bidder:

  • Cost
  • Bandwidth
  • Quality of transmission
  • Reliability
  • Technical support

Request for Proposal

A request for proposal (RFP) is a formal bidding document that describes a project and requests services in sufficient detail so that potential bidders understand the scope, location, time frame, and any other requirements. Applicants using an RFP for competitive bidding (per requirements or voluntarily) are required to submit the RFP with their FCC Form 461. For more information on the recommendations and requirements of an RFP, visit the Request for Proposal web page.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest

All potential service providers must have access to the same information and must be treated in the same manner. Before developing bid evaluation criteria, the applicant should first take steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest during the process that could result in the denial of funds.

Service Provider Involvement

Service providers submitting bids are prohibited from any involvement in setting bid evaluation criteria; from participating in the bid evaluation or vendor selection process (except in their role as potential vendors); or from preparing, signing, or submitting an HCP's FCC Form 461 documents.

Contract Modifications

Some contract modifications may require applicants to go through the competitive bidding process twice. View the contract modifications page to see if the change you are requesting requires a new competitive bid.