Category 2 Bidding Rules for PA Non-Public Schools and Libraries

December 12, 2019

Attached: PA Category 2 Presentation – FY 2020 – Non Public Schools & Libraries

Category 2 eligible products, such as wireless access points, routers, switches, hubs, and wiring, are located at the applicant site and must be necessary to transport information to classrooms or publicly accessible areas of a library (equipment inside the building).  Category 2 competitive bidding rules for PA nonpublic schools and libraries applicants mirrors the E-rate requirements exactly as these entity types are not subject to the additional requirements under the PA public procurement code. The following message outlines the bidding requirements for PA nonpublic schools and libraries.  A copy of the presentation used in the recent Category 2 for Non-Public Schools and Libraries webinar is attached.

General Bidding Reminders for All Applicants (public and non-public):

1)  E-rate rules require applicants that include a specific model number or manufacturer’s name to also include the words “or equivalent” on their Form 470 and RFP and then evaluate equivalent products that are bid.  Applicants may state that such equipment must be compatible and interoperable with the school/library’s existing equipment (in which case the existing equipment should be identified).

2)  E-rate rules require that any bid disqualification reasons be stated in the State and Local Procurement Requirements of the Form 470 or in the RFP.  Disqualification reasons must be yes/no (either proposals complied or they did not).

3)  NEW: USAC requires applicants to consider all bids received up until the date you conduct your bid evaluation if your Form 470 or RFP don’t list a specific due date.  This is different from previously understood guidance which was that vendors should consider the 28th day after the 470 is posted as the default deadline to submit bids.  Therefore, it is extremely important that you state a deadline for vendors to submit proposals (which, of course, must be on or after the 28-day waiting period).  I suggest the following language:

“Deadline for vendor proposals is 9:00 am Eastern, 29 days from the date this Form 470 is posted.  We reserve the right to reject late-submitted proposals.  Proposals must be e-mailed to the Form 470 contact unless otherwise noted.”

4)  NEW:  The FCC recently adopted an Order prohibiting the use of Universal Service funding, including E-rate funds, to purchase equipment and services from companies deemed a national security risk.  Initially, the two companies on the “banned” list are Huawei Technologies Company and ZTE Corp., but others may be added in the future.  Although we assume that E-rate bidding rules will allow applicants to summarily disqualify any bid that contains this equipment, I recommend that from now on, both Category 1 and Category 2 Form 470’s and/or RFPs contain the following language:

“In accordance with FCC Rules, proposals that include equipment from Huawei or ZTE, or have components from these companies embedded in proposed products, will be disqualified.”

5)  E-rate rules prohibit applicants from contacting potential vendors prior to bidding to seek an equipment list.  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/bill of materials that will be used by the applicant for conducting a competitive bid procurement.

6)  Applicants must have a signed contract for all Category 2 funding requests before the Form 471 is filed.  This can be as simple as a signed vendor quote as long as it contains this information:

– Contract signing date (must be on or before the Form 471 submission date).

– Term of contract (4/1/2020 – 9/30/2021 for equipment purchases).

– List of equipment/quantities/prices (or services) and installation costs.

– Whether you want the equipment/services to be contingent upon E-rate funding approval.

Timeline:  The Form 471 filing window dates have not yet been announced but the window is expected to be open from mid- January – mid-late March, 2020.  Because non-public schools and libraries often don’t have a local requirement to first obtain board approval prior to contract signing, these entities can be more flexible with when their bidding process begins.  I recommend releasing the Form 470 before the holiday break, but no later than the second week in January, with the intention of conducting the bid evaluation and signing a vendor contract in February and submitting the Form 471 in early March.

If you have any questions related to the information contained in this message, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell

Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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