E-rate Tips to Start the New Year Right
With the holidays upon us and a new year around the corner, now is the time to plan the next 12 weeks to make the most of your E-rate submissions. Please see the following tips to help guide you through the first three months of calendar year 2018:
- Updating Site Profiles. January 10, 2018 is the deadline to complete profile updates for school and library locations that will receive E-rate discounted services in FY2018. Don’t delay. If you have multiple locations, checking each site will require more time. [UPDATED: The site admin window has closed for FY2018 and the EPC system is no longer accepting changes to site profiles.]
- Changes can be made in EPC by accessing Records/Applicant Entities and Manage Organization, or for School Districts with multiple sites, by selecting Records/Applicant Entities/Additional Information/Related Organization/Related Entities.
- Click on the site location or Entity name and then select Manage Organization to update that location.
- Posting Form 470s. February 22, 2018 is the last day to post an FCC Form 470, requesting bids for services, in EPC. In August 2017, USAC made changes to the drop-down selections on the FCC 470 Form. Many applicants were confused by the new drop-down options. This month, USAC provided the following reference table as a guide to the dropdown options. For applicants still confused by the options and EPC requirements, it is good practice to add language in the narrative of the Form to alert all bidders of any additional specifications.
- The Form 470 is prepared in EPC by navigating to FCC Forms/Create FCC Form 470 (upper right corner).
- Applicants using additional procurement vehicles (RFP, CSP or other specifications) must upload those RFP documents to the Form when posting and certifying.
- Waiting 28 Days. Remember to wait 28 days before closing the competitive bid process. Once the competitive bid process has closed, evaluate all bids received. Document the evaluation and selection process. Remember that the price of the eligible goods and services must be given the highest weighted criteria when scoring and evaluating any selection factors. It is a best practice to save copies of all vendor selection documentation.
- Executing Service Agreements. Once the 28-day waiting period for competitive bids has closed, and you have selected (and documented) the winning provider, it is time to execute agreements and contracts for services. If your school or District requires board approval, or other internal requirements to execute binding agreements, be sure to plan to allow plenty of time to meet internal deadlines prior to submitting the FCC Form 471.
- Entering Contracts in EPC. Contract details are no longer entered in the FCC Form 471. Contracts are managed separately from the application and can be done so by navigating in EPC to Related Actions/Manage Contracts/Add a New Contract. Submitted contracts cannot be edited or deleted in EPC, and changes to a previously submitted contract require adding a New Contract into the system again. EPC allows applicants to assign a contract nickname when submitting a contract and this can be very useful to applicants who find multiple versions of the same agreement in the contract profile in EPC. Items that will be necessary to have available when entering a contract in EPC include the establishing Form 470, service agreement, count of bids received, contract term and renewal options.
- Gathering Documents and Planning. As we look forward to 2018 remember to gather and retain all E-rate documents as you go. Many applicants are pleased to see the return of the early year filing window dates for FY2018. For any applicants that have procrastinated the procurement process now is the time to get started.
Best wishes to all applicants this holiday season and may 2018 be a streamlined E-rate filing year for all!