Request for Proposal

Any applicant may use a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a formal bidding document that describes a project and desired services in detail to ensure an effective competitive bidding process. If you use an RFP, you must submit it with your FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form). Service providers will use the RFP and information on the FCC Form 461 to submit a bid to provide services to your site.

You must submit an RFP if any of the following apply:

(1) you are required to issue an RFP under applicable state, Tribal, or local procurement rules or regulations;

(2) you are a consortium seeking more than $100,000 in program support during the funding year, including applications that seek more than $100,000 in program support for a multi-year commitment; or

(3) you are a consortium seeking support for participant-constructed and owned network facilities.

The RFP must include, at a minimum:

  • sufficient information to enable an effective competitive bidding process, including a description of the applicant’s service needs and the scope of the project and network costs (if applicable);
  • the period during which bids will be accepted; and
  • the bid evaluation criteria, including the weight assigned to each criterion. (Note: The weight percentages listed in the RFP must match the weight percentages provide on Line 22 of the FCC Form 461.)

Sample RFPs and Checklist

Using a sample RFP will not guarantee approval of the RFP by USAC. You are responsible for reviewing related FCC rules and ensuring that your RFP meets program requirements.

Use this printable checklist to ensure you include all required elements in your RFP.

Additional Requirements

  • Neutral Language – Applicants must use general or neutral terms when describing their service needs. Applicants that include a particular service provider’s name, brand, product or service on the FCC Form 461 or RFP must also use the words “or equivalent” in the description, to avoid the appearance that the applicant has pre-selected the named service provider or intends to give the service provider preference in the bidding process.  Examples of service requests include, but are not limited to: Fiber, Ethernet, VPN, Point-to-Point, T-1, DS1, and Copper.
  • Information Required – The bid evaluation criteria must solicit sufficient information so that the criteria can be applied effectively.
  • Changes to the RFP – If the applicant subsequently makes any changes to its RFP, it is responsible for ensuring that USAC has a current version of the RFP for website posting. Certain changes to RFPs may require an applicant to restart its competitive bidding process, including the 28-day requirement.
  • Long-Term Capital Investments – If you are a consortium applicant seeking support for a long-term capital investment with a useful life longer than the funding commitment, you must seek bids in the same RFP for services provided over vendor-owned facilities, for a time period comparable to the life of the proposed capital investment.
  • Constructed and Owned Facilities – Consortia seeking support to construct and own network facilities are required to solicit bids for both (i) services provided over third-party networks and (ii) construction of participant-owned network facilities, in the same request for proposals. Requests for proposals must provide sufficient detail so that cost-effectiveness can be evaluated over the useful life of the proposed network facility to be constructed
  • Dark Fiber – Requests for proposals (RFPs) that solicit dark fiber solutions must also solicit proposals to provide the needed services over lit fiber over a time period comparable to the duration of the dark fiber lease or indefeasible right of use.

Recommendations

  • Invoicing Procedures– The RFP should explain the FCC Form 463 (Invoice and Request for Disbursement Form) invoicing process, including the selected service provider’s responsibility to sign, certify, and submit proper invoices and documentation for reimbursement by the invoicing deadline (i.e., 6 months after the end of the commitment period).
  • Service Provider 498 ID Requirement – The RFP should explain that all service providers must either have an existing 498 ID or apply to obtain a 498 ID by completing an FCC Form 498 (Service Provider and Billed Entity Identification Number and General Contact Information Form).
  • Service Level Agreement– The RFP should include a service level agreement (SLA) that defines the nature of the services required. Usually, an SLA will state when the network should be available, bandwidth required to support this connection, network latency standards, and required response times. These technical requirements are critical for a service provider to prepare an accurate pricing proposal, and for you to conduct an objective bid evaluation.
  • Disqualifying Bids– The RFP should define the applicant’s standards for disqualification of service provider bids, including any services or equipment that do not meet the minimum project requirements.

The material on these webpages is provided for general information only and should not be relied upon or used as the sole basis for making decisions without consulting the RHC Program rules, orders, and other primary sources of information. Applicants and service providers are ultimately responsible for knowing and complying with all RHC Program rules and procedures.