Deadline Extended to Submit Comments to FCC re: Nationwide Bidding Portal

March 18, 2022

Attached: Bidding Portal NPRM Summary Jan 2022 fcc questions (1)

In January, I alerted you that the FCC has proposed mandating a nationwide E-rate bidding portal beginning July 2023 where all vendor bids and vendor questions would be required to be submitted (in lieu of bids going to schools/libraries), along with other major changes (see below).  I’m pleased and relieved to report that the FCC has extended the deadline to submit feedback on their proposals to Wednesday, April 27, 2022.  Reply comments will be due no later than May 27, 2022.

Let’s close out the E-rate window next week, take a brief breather, and then I’ll be in touch with more information on the FCC’s proposals and how you can weigh in.  Your comments carry a lot of weight, so I hope you’ll plan to submit something, however brief it may be.

Warmest regards (literally on this 75-degree Friday!),

– Julie


From: PA E-RATE List <PL-ERATE@LISTS.PSU.EDU> On Behalf Of Julie Tritt Schell

Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2022 4:56 PM
Subject: FCC Proposes to Mandate Nationwide Bidding Portal

FCC Proposes to Mandate Nationwide Bidding Portal

I’m writing to make you aware that the FCC recently released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that proposes to create an E-rate bidding portal where all vendor bids would be required to be submitted (in lieu of bids going to schools/libraries), along with other major changes.  A high-level overview of the three major proposals is below, and a more detailed summary is attached that includes all of the questions included in the NPRM.  If adopted, the FCC’s goal is to have the bid portal operational beginning July 1, 2023 for use with Funding Year 2024 E-rate procurements.  As of now, these are proposals being considered – not actual rule changes – but an NPRM is the first step in making such changes.  The FCC is seeking public comment, including whether these measures will impose a hardship on E-rate program participants and whether they conflict with any state and/or local bidding requirements.  I will be providing additional information in the coming days on how to submit comments to the FCC and key items you’ll want to consider/address.

NPRM Proposed Changes:

1. Mandated Bidding Portal:  Service providers will be required to submit bids to a central bidding portal managed by USAC and would be prohibited from submitting bids directly to schools/libraries or other parties.  Bids would be withheld from schools/libraries until the Form 470 Allowable Contract Date (29 days after the Form 470 is posted) and then released to the applicant for bid evaluation.

2. Mandated Public Communication Channel with Vendors:  Service providers will post their questions anonymously to applicants through the bidding portal, to which applicants must respond during the competitive bidding process. No communication between service providers and applicants related to competitive bidding process will be permitted outside of the bidding portal during the bidding process.  All communication will be publicly posted for applicants and all interested bidders to see.

3. Required Documentation Submission to USAC:  Applicants will be required to upload the following into the bidding portal before submitting the Form 471:

  • Completed bid evaluation worksheets or matrices;
  • Explanation for any disqualified bids;
  • List of people who evaluated the bids (along with their title/role/relationship to the applicant);
  • Memos, board minutes, or similar documents related to the service provider selection/award;
  • Copies of notices to winners;
  • Any correspondence with the service providers prior to and during the competitive bidding, evaluation, and award phase of the process; and
  • Contracts or other documentation that outlines service, cost, term.

The proposals are being recommended by the GAO and FCC’s Inspector General’s Office (OIG) because they believe that without such centrally-submitted documents, they cannot verify compliance with E-rate bidding rules which is therefore a key fraud risk.

Comments should be submitted at: under Proceeding (Docket) 21-455.  Comments are due by March 28 and reply comments are due by April 27.

I will be in touch in the coming days with more on this NPRM.

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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