Reviewing and Evaluating Vendor Bids/Proposals

January 21, 2021

Attached: Sample Bid Evaluation Matrix

~ Sample Bid Evaluation Matrix Attached ~

After posting a Form 470 and waiting at least 29 days (or posting a PEPPM mini-bid and waiting at least 14 days), the next step in the E-rate process is to review and evaluate the proposals submitted by vendors.  Such bid evaluations are an E-rate program requirement and must be kept for 10 years from the last date to receive service under that procurement, and may be requested USAC during their review of your Form 471 application.  This message provides simple steps and FAQs to guide you through evaluating vendor bids.


After the Allowable Contract Date/bid due date (whichever is later), applicants should review vendor proposals as soon as possible.  The review should determine if each proposal has met the minimum requirements of the Form 470/RFP and deserves to be included in the bid evaluation.

If a requirement listed in the original 470/RFP was not been met and the applicant wishes to disqualify the proposal, I recommend that the vendor’s name and specific disqualification reason be listed in the bid evaluation. The easiest method to creating bid evaluations is to use a spreadsheet, with each vendor’s name/price/scores in a separate column.  The winning bidder’s name should be listed at the bottom of the page, along with the person(s) that evaluate the proposals and the date.   Attached is a sample bid evaluation matrix, containing two tabs – a blank matrix for you to complete, and a completed sample to use as a guide.


·         How do you determine your Allowable Contract Date and/or view a copy of your submitted Form 470? The Allowable Contract Date (ACD) is the 29th day after you hit submit on your Form 470, and is the first date that you are permitted to hit submit on your Form 471 (29 days include weekends and holidays).  The EPC system will e-mail you an automatic reminder when your ACD has arrived.

– Important Note: If you uploaded any RFP addenda to your 470, and they included any new services, entities, or a significant change in services, you must extend your deadline so vendors have a full 28-days to submit bid responses with the new information.  Unfortunately, the EPC Allowable Contract Date does not automatically update when an addendum is uploaded, simply because the system has no way of knowing if the information in the addendum has made significant changes to the RFP.  This must be a manual calculation.  But please don’t forget to do this as many applicants have been denied for making RFP changes and not extending the due date.  If you are unsure if your changes are significant, please ask me.

  • Are you required to respond to vendors that contact you for the first time after the 28-day waiting period? This depends.  If you included a due date in your Form 470 or RFP, you are not required to accept bids or respond to vendors who contact you after the due date.  But you may do so as long as you afford all vendors the same opportunity, and as long as it is permitted by your local bidding rules.  If your 470 or RFP was silent on a bid due date, the USAC guidance is that you must continue to accept vendor bids until you conduct your bid evaluation.
  • What should you do if you received no bids for a service listed on our 470? If you don’t receive any bids after your 28-day waiting period, you can: a) contact one or more service providers to solicit a bid(s), or b) if it’s an existing service, you can choose to remain with your incumbent provider and use a recent invoice as the bid response.  You are not required to seek more than one bid, but if you only get one bid, you must make sure it’s cost effective.  The only exception to this is for Category 2 equipment which costs between $11,500 – $21,300 where the applicant has not released a formal RFP (and is not using PEPPM) in which case PA procurement law requires public school entities to seek 3 telephonic bids (does not apply to services).


  • Are you required to select the lowest-cost bid? This depends on whether you’re bidding equipment or services, and whether you’re a public school, nonpublic school or library.

…SERVICES (ALL schools/libraries) and EQUIPMENT for nonpublic schools & libraries:  You are NOT required to select the lowest bid.  You ARE required to select the most cost effective proposal with price of eligible services being the most heavily weighted factor (which means that if you have 3 evaluation criteria, price of eligible services must be at least 34% of the total weight.)  Many other factors besides price may be considered; for example (this is not an exhaustive list):

- vendor qualifications/experience

- vendor owns facilities or is leasing from a 3rd party

- minority business status

- staff knowledge of equipment manufacturer

- existing relationship with school

- references from other customers

- staff time required to change IP addresses, etc.

…EQUIPMENT for public schools:  It depends:

– IF…you released a 470/RFP, PA procurement law requires public school entities to select the lowest responsible bidder.  You cannot consider additional bid evaluation criteria as suggested above; however, you are permitted to outline strict bid disqualification criteria in your 470/RFP that vendors must meet in order to be considered a qualified bid.  The disqualification criteria must be able to be answered in a Yes/No fashion (such as: do they have a SPIN, is their equipment compatible and interoperable with the District’s existing equipment, do they receive good references, do they have E-rate experience, have they been in business for X number of years, have they submitted all of the required documents, etc.).

– IF… you released a PEPPM Mini-Bid (whereby you do not release a 470/RFP), you are NOT required to select low bid and your evaluation standard is based on the E-rate “most cost effective proposal” standard.  You and are permitted to consider additional bid evaluation factors just as you are with services.  In addition, you also are permitted to outline strict bid disqualification criteria in your PEPPM Mini-Bid that vendors must meet in order to be considered a qualified bid, as described in the preceding paragraph.

  • Can you consider ineligible costs in the bid evaluation?

Yes.  E-rate rules require the cost of eligible services to be the most heavily weighted factor, but you can include a separate bid evaluation factor that considers ineligible costs.  The evaluation of the ineligible cost component just cannot be weighted more heavily than the eligible cost.

  • Do you have to create a bid evaluation matrix? In all E-rate audits, PQA Assessments and SPIN Change Requests, applicants are required to provide the bid evaluation worksheet showing how they selected their vendors (SPIN change procedures require applicants wishing to switch vendors to submit a copy of their bid evaluation worksheet to prove that they have selected the vendor with the next highest score in your Form 470 evaluation process).  Also, the required Contracts Module in EPC requires you to list the # of bids received which is easy to determine if you have created a good bid evaluation matrix for each procurement.
  • How do you score the cost in a bid evaluation? The fairest way to score cost is to calculate a weight based on the difference between a proposal’s cost and the lowest proposal’s cost.  For example, you would divide the second lowest cost by the lowest cost to assign a weight %.  Then that weight % would be multiplied by the total available points assigned to cost.  Attached is a bid evaluation template which shows how the calculations work.  Be sure to fill-in your own evaluation criteria and scoring system.  Formula: (proposal cost/lowest proposal cost) * points assigned to cost category.
  • Are you required to list disqualified vendors in the bid evaluation matrix?

This is not a requirement, but it’s a good idea to list the vendor name and the reason for disqualification (no need to list the proposal cost). POST-BID EVALUATION

  • Are you required to keep the losing proposals? Yes!  You must keep the winning AND losing proposals for a period of 10 years from the last date to receive service, which is basically 11 years.
  • Are you required to notify the losing vendors?

It’s not an E-rate requirement, but is a good idea so vendors know where they stand.

  • Are you required to release information related to your bid evaluation?

This is not an E-rate requirement, but for public schools, it is considered public information and must be provided if someone submits a formal Right to Know request through the appropriate process.

Please e-mail me at if you have any questions!

Happy Evaluating!

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o
717-730-9060 – f   

We are HERE in the FY 2021 E-rate Cycle:


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