Category 2 Outreach and Bidding

December 2, 2014

Many of you have emailed me to ask questions about applying for Category 2 since we learned of the strong possibility of additional funding. Because it will be almost impossible for me to walk 1000+ PA applicants through the Category 2 process individually, I will be sending a series of very specific listserve messages related to Category 2 in the coming days that I hope will be very explanatory and answer most of your individual questions. I also will be conducting a Category 2 webinar in the near future and USAC will be conducting several webinars as well.

The most frequently asked Category 2 question of the last three weeks has dealt with bidding requirements and PEPPM availability.

Bidding Requirements: E-rate rules require that you comply with state bidding requirements at the same time that you are bidding using the Form 470. For PA public school entities, this means that for purchases over $19,100, they must conduct a sealed bid process, which consists of releasing an RFP and advertising in two local newspapers for three consecutive weeks – at the same time the Form 470 released. I am working to draft a sample RFP that you will be able to fill in the blanks, and attach the equipment list for which you are seeking bids. My goal is to have that available for you by December 12. Using this option, you will be required to select the “lowest responsible bidder” and unlike E-rate rules, you are very limited in considering non-cost factors.

PEPPM: For those entities that would like to skip the 470/RFP process and instead use the PEPPM contract, you will be permitted to do so but ONLY if you conduct a “mini-bid” of all vendors on the PEPPM list that offer the specific type of equipment you are seeking. For example, if you would like Wireless Access Points, you will have to contact all PEPPM vendors that offer wireless equipment and seek price quotes from them and conduct a bid evaluation. We are working with the PEPPM staff to create a master cross-reference list of which PEPPM vendors fall into these categories: Wireless Equipment, Cabling/Connectors, Caching Servers, Firewall Equipment, Switches, Routers, UPSs, Racks, and Managed Wi-Fi Services. The current PEPPM contract expires December 31, 2014 and the new PEPPM contracts that will begin January 1, 2015 are being awarded in the coming weeks. As soon as the awards have been made and the manufacturer/category cross-reference list is developed, I will send a detailed message to the listserve so you can begin the mini-bid process.

Co-Stars: The Co-Stars contract is not competitively bid with price as the most heavily weighted factor, so it is not E-rate eligible and cannot be considered for E-rate purposes.


Julie Tritt Schell
PA E-rate Coordinator

717-730-7133 – o
717-730-9060 – f


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