Step 2: Prepare For Competitive Bidding and Request Services

After determining that you are eligible, the next steps are to identify the services you need and develop the evaluation criteria that you will use to assess service provider bids. This is done through competitive bidding, which ensures all service providers have the opportunity to provide the requested services. The FCC Form 465 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form) is what you will submit to USAC. It is used to determine eligibility and to request services from service providers.

Note: This process differs from the HCF Program, where eligibility and requests for services are completed through two separate forms—the FCC Form 460 (for eligibility) and FCC Form 461 (for request for services).

Develop Bid Evaluation Criteria

The bid evaluation criteria you develop will determine how you will evaluate the bids you receive from services providers and must be included on the FCC Form 465.The bid evaluation criteria should include the factors that you deem most important for your site to provide health care.

You must demonstrate how you will choose the most “cost-effective” bid, based on the FCC’s definition of “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 (HCP) deems relevant to choosing a method of providing the required health care services.”

Evaluation criteria commonly included on the FCC Form 465:

  • Cost
  • Technical support
  • Previous experience with service provider
  • Quality of transmission
  • Service provider to provide a single point of contact

Once you have developed your evaluation criteria, you should assign a weight to each criterion in the order of importance. For instance, if cost is the most important criterion, you can assign a weight of 40 percent to cost, with other criteria receiving a lesser weight. The total weight of all of the criteria must equal 100 percent.

You must use the criteria that you choose and list on the FCC Form 465 to evaluate and score each bid when selecting a vendor.

You must evaluate all bids received and select the most cost-effective method of providing the requested services.

Before Submitting the FCC Form 465

Conduct a fair and open competitive bidding process: All potential bidders and service providers must have access to the same information and must be treated in the in the same manner. Potential bidders and service providers are prohibited from (1) assisting with an HCP’s FCC Form 465; (2) being involved in setting the bid evaluation criteria; and (3) participating in the bid evaluation or vendor selection process.

Avoid conflicts of interest: Before developing bid evaluation criteria, be sure to avoid potential conflicts of interest that could result in the denial of funding.  For example, a conflict of interest exists when the applicant’s consultant is associated with a service provider that is selected and is involved in determining the services sought by the applicant and the selection of the applicant’s service provider(s).

RHC Program rules also prohibit service providers that are submitting bids from having any involvement in the competitive bidding process and/or the submission of the FCC Form 465.

Request Services with the FCC Form 465

After preparing bid evaluation criteria, you can file the FCC Form 465. This form allows you to describe your service needs and request bids from service providers. You must file the FCC Form 465 each funding year unless you have an evergreen contract.

Remember, the FCC Form 465 is also used to determine eligibility. For more information about eligibility and the information needed to complete that part of the form, please see Step 1.

You may submit the FCC Form 465 as early as 180 days before the beginning of the funding year. The FCC Form 465 must be posted on USAC’s website for at least 28 days before you can sign a contract with a service provider. When the FCC Form 465 is approved, USAC will email the posting confirmation to the account holders. The posting confirmation will include the posting date and the date that you can enter into a contract with the selected service provider. This date is called the Allowable Contract Selection Date (ACSD). You may not agree to or sign a contract with a service provider until the ACSD. If you select a service provider before the ACSD, your funding request will be denied.

You may extend the 28 day bidding period. If you wish to extend the bidding period after USAC posts your FCC Form 465, you should notify USAC immediately. It is your responsibility to notify potential bidders of the extension.

If you do not receive any bids during your 28-day competitive bidding period, you have a few options for how to proceed:

  1. Repost the FCC Form 465 for 28 additional days to solicit more bids.
  2. If you are already under contract, use your current contract as a “standing bid” to obtain the requested services. However, please note that the current contract must have been signed and the services installed before the competitive bidding process began.
  3. 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 465.

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.

Submit the FCC Form 465 through , the RHC Program’s application management system.

Things to Remember

Exercise caution during contract modifications: Some contract modifications require that you go through a new competitive bidding process before adopting the modification. View the contract modifications page to see if the change(s) you are requesting requires a new competitive bidding process.

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.