Step 3: Evaluate Bids & Select Service Provider
After USAC posts the FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form) on the USAC website for a minimum of 28 days, you will evaluate all bids received during the competitive bidding period and choose the most cost-effective solution, using the bid evaluation criteria submitted with your FCC Form 461. You must consider all bids received during the competitive bidding period and must document how you evaluated each bid. Afterwards, you then select the most cost-effective bid. If you were subject to competitive bidding, then you must certify to USAC that the services selected are the most cost-effective option available.
If you do not receive any bids during your 28-day competitive bidding period, you have a few options for how to proceed:
- Repost the FCC Form 461 for 28 additional days to solicit more bids.
- If you are already receiving the requested service under an existing contract, use your current contract as a “standing bid” to obtain the requested services or equipment. However, please note that the current contract must have been signed and the services installed before the competitive bidding process began.
- Select a service provider of your choosing. If you choose this option, the services selected must be compliant with the original bid evaluation criteria and FCC Form 461.
There is no minimum number of bids that you must receive to request funding through the RHC Program. If you only receive one bid, you are free to accept this bid as long as it is evaluated using the evaluation criteria. You must submit a copy of ALL bids received, including winning, losing, and disqualified. For disqualified bids, you must provide an explanation for the disqualification.
The FCC defines “most cost-effective” 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.”
Sign a Service Agreement
Once you select a service provider, you may sign a contract with the selected provider on or after the Allowable Contract Selection Date (ACSD), the 29th day after the FCC Form 461 posting date. If you enter into a new contract or service agreement before the ASCD, you will be denied funding.
The next step after signing a service agreement with your service provider is to submit the FCC Form 462 (Funding Request Form). This form provides information about the services, equipment, or network facilities selected and certifies that those services were the most cost-effective option of the offers received. When you file your FCC Form 462, you must submit a contract or other documentation that clearly identifies:
- The service provider(s) selected and the HCP(s) that will receive the services;
- The service, bandwidth, and costs for which support is being requested; and
- The term of the service agreement, if applicable (i.e., if services will not be provided on a month-to-month basis).
You must also submit documentation with your FCC Form 462 to support the competitive bidding process and funding being sought. See 47 CFR § 54.643 for more details.
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.