Updates to PEPPM E-rate Mini-Bidding for PA Public Schools
January 28, 2017
In December, a message was sent to the listserve (below) explaining the process/requirements by which public schools can conduct a PEPPM Mini-Bid for Category 2 equipment/services should they choose to use this process as an alternative to the Form 470, RFP bidding process. Since that message was sent, a several updates have been made to the PEPPM Awarded Manufacturer List (Document D), including the addition of a few new E-rate eligible product lines, additional authorized resellers, and updated contact information for a few vendors. The updated Awarded Manufacturer List is attached to this message, and is also available on the PA E-rate website’s Master Contracts page at: http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121.
When issuing PEPPM Mini-Bids from now on, please use the updated list or the list available on the website. Mini-bids issued previously are still valid and no additional bidding must be conducted.
Updated Timeline: In the message below I recommended that PEPPM mini-bids be issued by early January so that you could obtain board approval at their February meeting. Because the FY 2017 Form 471 filing window dates have not yet been announced, and we now expect the 471 deadline will be no earlier than the end of April, obviously there’s still plenty of time to conduct your procurements. However, I encourage everyone to begin your procurements in the near future so that contracts can be approved at your March board meetings and Form 471s can be submitted as early in the window as possible.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com
From: [ ] On Behalf Of Julie Tritt Schell
Sent: Friday, December 9, 2016 2:46 PM
To: E-rate Listserve – PA < >
Subject: PEPPM E-rate Mini-Bidding Information for Schools
PEPPM E-rate Mini-Bidding Information for Schools
~ Additional product lines being added in January ~
For PA Public Schools that choose to use the PEPPM Contract as the procurement option for their E-rate Category 2 applications (see previous listserve message related to C2 procurement options for PA Public Schools), a mini-bid process must be conducted among all manufacturers that can provide that “category” of equipment in order to meet the E-rate requirement that all equivalent product lines must be provided the opportunity to submit proposals. This message provides a comprehensive, yet hopefully simple, step-by-step guide to conducting your PEPPM Mini-Bid (this guide also is attached is PDF format). It’s important that each step be followed in order and in its entirety in order to be E-rate compliant.
A few important notes before you begin:
- Reminder: E-rate rules prohibit bidding vendors from providing the equipment list that will become part of the mini-bid. Service providers are allowed to answer general questions about the products and services they sell in response to applicant inquiries, but they may not prepare any part of a RFP or spec sheet that will be used by the applicant for conducting a competitive bid procurement. If you don’t know exactly what the model numbers are for the components you need, you should list the manufacturer – if you have a preference – and generally describe the components you need. For example, if you need wireless access points you would simply list wireless access points and estimate the quantity.
- Timeline? I recommend that all PEPPM Mini-Bid E-mails to vendors be issued by early January, if possible. You can evaluate bids/finalize orders in January, and seek board approval at your February board meeting.
- Form 470’s?: If you are using the PEPPM mini-bid process, you should NOT file a Form 470 as a Form 470 for PEPPM was filed when the contract was competitively bid in the fall of 2014. On your Form 471, you will cite to the PEPPM 470 number (Form 470 #: 245730001240230). If you do NOT wish to use PEPPM, you must file your own Form 470 (and issue a RFP if the total purchase price is over $19,400). Keep in mind that you must accept bids from equivalent product lines (E-rate rule) from the lowest responsible bidder (PA law). See my previous email for more information on Category 2 bidding options/requirements.
- Several new product lines are being added to the PEPPM Contract on January 1, 2017. When the awarded vendors are known, the spreadsheet will be updated and posted to the Master Contracts page of the PA E-rate website.
Step 1. Link Your BEN to the PEPPM Consortium in the EPC Portal
Before you issue any PEPPM Mini-Bid e-mails to vendors, your school must link to the PEPPM Consortium in your school’s EPC Portal (if you haven’t already done so). This step can be done by the BEN’s EPC Account Administrator (AA) or a Full Rights User. Screenshots showing how to complete this task can be found as Document A at: http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121. After logging into EPC:
> Click on your district’s name on the Landing Page (should be the first item in the Organization List).
> Choose ‘Related Actions’ on the left toolbar.
> Choose ‘Manage Organization Relationships’ at the bottom of the lightning bolt list.
> Choose ‘Sign Up for a Consortium.’
> Type “PEPPM” in the name search and click ‘Search.’
> In the results window, check the box beside the PEPPM Consortium entry (Entity # 17000299) and click Submit. Confirm action.
> Your BEN is now linked to the PEPPM Consortium and you may continue with the mini-bid process.
Step 2. Create Equipment/Needs List
A mini-bid equipment/services template is available at http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 as Document B. Building names are not required, but may be useful for you to include if you want to keep track of your C2 building budgets. If installation/configuration is required, be certain to include that on your bid list. Schools must complete Columns A-F of the template. Vendors must complete Columns G-H. Vendors submitting a quote for an equivalent product line (different from the manufacturer listed in Column C) must complete Columns I-J. This list is then attached to the cover e-mail described in Step 3 and send to vendors as described in Step 4.
Reminder: E-rate rules prohibit bidding vendors from providing the equipment list that will become part of the mini-bid. Service providers are allowed to answer general questions about the products and services they sell in response to applicant inquiries, but they may not prepare any part of a RFP or spec sheet that will be used by the applicant for conducting a competitive bid procurement. If you don’t know exactly what the model numbers are for the components you need, you should list the manufacturer – if you have a preference – and generally describe the components you need. For example, if you need wireless access points you would simply list wireless access points and estimate the quantity.
Step 3. Compose E-mail to Vendors
A sample cover e-mail to vendors is available at http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 as Document C, explaining your PEPPM Mini-Bid and setting forth the instructions to vendors on how to prepare and submit a bid. The message can/should be modified to meet your specific requirements, but it must be personalized where highlighted, and must give a due date for vendors to submit responses. Please give vendors at least 14 calendar days to respond (more if the mini-bid is conducted over the holidays).
Step 4. Determine All Vendors in the Relevant “Category”
E-rate rules require that if you are using a master contract such as PEPPM where more than one vendor can provide “equivalent” equipment, you must conduct a mini-bid among all product lines in that ”Category.” The Categories mirror the Eligible Services List as follows:
- Wireless Equipment/Services
- Firewall Equipment/Services
- UPSs; and
- Caching Servers
The list of all PEPPM E-rate eligible product lines, identified by Category, is available at http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 as Document D. To see the product lines for a particular Category, simply click on the Filter icon at the top of the relevant Column and uncheck the “blank” box. That will show just the manufacturer product lines with an X, indicating that the product lines include equipment in that particular Category. For example, if you filter by UPS, you will see there are 8 manufacturers on PEPPM that sell UPS equipment.
Next, you must e-mail all of the vendors (using e-mail addresses in Column N) with awarded product lines in the specific Category and seek pricing proposals for your specific equipment list. Use the Mini-Bid Cover E-mail referenced in Step 3 above, and attach your Equipment List referenced in Step 2 above. Note that you should identify your preferred manufacturer, if you have one, in the cover email.
Manufacturer Resellers: Each PEPPM product line has been awarded to a single vendor (Awarded Vendor); however, in some cases Awarded Vendors will identify Authorized Resellers that are bound by the PEPPM contract terms and conditions and will rely on those resellers to directly sell to customers See Column P to identify whether the Awarded Vendor relies on resellers. Where resellers can/must be used, applicants should review all of the Authorized Resellers identified in the corresponding tab and document in their bid evaluation a valid reason why they selected a particular Authorized Reseller. A valid reason could include: proximity to the district, previous experience with the district, possesses an E-rate SPIN number, has E-rate experience, high references from other schools, etc. To determine if the Awarded Vendor has authorized resellers, see column P of the Category List.
Step 5. Conduct Your Bid Evaluation
Using the prices contained in the vendor proposals submitted by the required deadline, conduct a bid evaluation to select the successful vendor. If a vendor has not responded with a quote by your established deadline, you are not obligated to consider that vendor’s equipment in your evaluation.
- Price of eligible equipment/services must be the most heavily weighted factor, but you may consider other factors such as previous experience with the District, references, cost to train or certify staff on new equipment, etc. So if you have 4 bid evaluation factors, price of eligible equipment/services must be weighted at least 26% (and no other factor can be weighted more heavily).
- A sample bid evaluation matrix, and a sample completed bid evaluation matrix are available at http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 as Document E, which you are welcome to use and modify.
Step 6. Notify Winning Vendor
After conducting your bid evaluation and selecting the winning vendor,inform the winning vendor/reseller via e-mail that they have been tentatively selected to provide your E-rate Category 2 equipment and services, contingent on school board approval (if required), issuance of a purchase order and subject to receiving E-rate funding approval (if you don’t intend to move forward without E-rate funding approval). A sample award e-mail is available at http://e-ratepa.org/?page_id=6121 as Document F. Finalize the exact quantities to be purchased and have the vendor provide a formal quote on vendor letterhead that will act as your Vendor Contract. Ask the vendor to include the following language in the quote. If they do not, handwrite or type it in yourself:
- Contract term is 4/1/2017 – 9/30/2018;
- Purchase is contingent on E-rate funding approval (if applicable)
- The district should then sign and date the contract, after obtaining any required school board approvals. Be certain that the signing date is on or BEFORE date of filing the Form 471. The date of the school/district signature will be the contract award date.
- The contract will then be uploaded as a new Contract Record in the Contract Module of EPC.
Prevailing Wage Act and PEPPM Mini-Bids: PA public school entities are required to comply with the Prevailing Wage Act for public works contracts which include ‘construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration and/or repair work other than maintenance work, done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of the funds of a public body where the estimated cost of the total project is in excess of $25,000.’ Maintenance work is defined as the repair of existing facilities when the size, type or extent of such facilities is not thereby changed or increased. In speaking with several knowledgeable school officials, they believe that structured cabling projects costing more than $25,000 would be required to comply with the Prevailing Wage Act – even if using the PEPPM Mini-Bid process. You will want to check with your school district solicitor to determine if he or she believes the Prevailing Wage Act applies and if so, be sure to obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination from the PA Department of Labor and Industry (http://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/Labor-Management-Relations/llc/prevailing-wage/Pages/Prevailing-Wage-App.aspx) and include this requirement and PW Determination in your structured cabling RFP/procurement. (The federal Davis-Bacon Act does not apply to E-rate funds.)
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator