USAC properly rescinded the district’s E-Rate funding on the basis that the underlying applications violated the Commission’s competitive bidding rules by failing to consider the price of eligible services as the primary factor.
Clarification that the Commission’s competitive bidding rules prohibit applicants from including a particular manufacturer’s name, brand, product or service in an FCC Form 470 or RFPs unless they also use the words “or equivalent” in such a description.
Rules that applicants may use a multi-tiered vendor selection process when evaluating bids, but ultimately, price must be the primary factor in selecting a qualified vendor. Specifically, applicants may use the first tier of a multi-tiered evaluation process to assess whether a proposal satisfies minimum technical capabilities, such as the scope of or quality of service, to ensure that the proposal is responsive to the RFP. This tier may be evaluated on a pass-fail basis or it may be scored numerically, where a minimum score is required to advance to the next phase of the evaluation process. Applicants may use the second tier of the evaluation process to examine price and other criteria. Consistent with state and local procurement requirements, any applicant using a multi-tiered process would provide notice - in either its FCC Form 470 or its RFP - to all potential bidders as to the specific criteria to be evaluated in each tier, how those criteria will be scored, which criteria will be used as disqualification criteria, and the circumstances under which bidders will be disqualified from further consideration. Price must be weighted the highest among each of the evaluation criteria in a multi-tiered vendor selection process, consistent with the Commission's rules.
Competitive bidding appeals denied and granted, waiver of appeal deadline, contracts signed a few days before ACD, mistaken 470 listed in 471, 470 in effect did not require noting interest in voluntary extensions and contracts signed for extensions could still rely on these Form 470s.
FCC appeal decisions and precedents announcing new requirements or clarifying existing regulations shall be applied prospectively (particularly when the new standard may be more stringent than the existing standard).
In reviewing competitive bid compliance, USAC should have applied the standard the FCC articulated in the 1999 Tennessee Order, rather than the standard USAC applied from the newer Ysleta Order issued after the year in which the applications were filed and reviewed. USAC should have considered whether price was considered as a factor for vendor selection (as required by Tennessee) and whether the most cost-effective services were selected, and not whether price was weighted the highest during bid evaluations (as now required by Ysleta).
SLD cannot deny funding based on a "pattern analysis" that detects similar wording on Form 470s and conclude competitive bidding violations without examining specific facts of each application.
Grants instant Requests for Review for applications where USAC denied the requests for funding without sufficiently determining that the service providers improperly participated in the applicants’ bidding processes.
Denial of funding upheld where applicants chose the a provider without seeking bids on any of the prices of the specific E-rate funded services sought. Most of the applicants also submitted FCC Forms 470 expressing interest in purchasing a catalogue of virtually every eligible service, rather than developing a list of services actually desired, based on their technology plans, with sufficient specificity to enable bidders to submit realistic bids with prices for specified services. Some applicants also stated on their FCC Forms 470 that they did not have an RFP relating to the E-rate eligible services, and then subsequently released such an RFP just a few days later; FCC states these practices are contrary to FCC rules and policies and create conditions for considerable waste of funds.
Topic:Signed Contracts; Competitive Bidding - Form 470
Applicants who may have already signed a contract without first having posted a Form 470 may then later post a Form 470 and consider the existing contract as one of the bid responses. If the bid evaluation results conclude that the existing contract is the most cost effective option, the applicant is not required to sign a new contract but should memorialize their decision to continue the service and enter the date of this memorialization as the contract award date on their Form 471 application.
Affected applicants that were innocently affected by wrongdoing committed by a service provider were permitted to re-file their 470 and 471 applications for the requested services with the applicable deadlines being waived.
Concludes that having a service provider employee listed as the contact person on the FCC Form 470 that initiated a competitive bidding process in which that provider participated makes the Form 470 defective and violates competitive bidding requirements