The Schools and Libraries Division has implemented a revised Form 470 application, and updated its online posting mechanism so that forms that are posted online will now be designated for the 2006 funding year.
The new form implements some changes that the Federal Communications Commission approved last year, but not in time to be integrated into the Form 470 application that was used for the 2005 funding year.
For the first time, the new form will require applicants to provide a brief description of the products and services they are seeking when they reference an RFP. In the past, interested service providers were required to check individual RFPs in broad service categories before they could determine whether an applicant was seeking the products or services they sold.
The form now says that any RFP for E-rate-eligible products and services "must be available to all interested bidders for at least 28 days." The form then stipulates that if applicants fail to make their RFPs "available to all interested bidders," or if applicants say they don't have an RFP "when you have or intend to have an RFP, you risk denial of your funding requests."
The form also asks applicants to designate whether they prefer discounts on their bills, reimbursement after paying their bill, or have no preference. The choice is designed to let interested service providers know upfront if the applicant will expect them to bill in a particular way. Under E-rate program rules, applicants can now stipulate the billing method that a service provider must use.
The form also includes the new "Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections" for the first time. In the past, this category was included in the Internal Connections service category.
In another change, applicants are asked to specify if "no state and local procurement/competitive bidding requirements apply to the procurement of services" covered by the application. As in the past, applicants are required to specify whether there are restrictions and how they can be reviewed.
The new form also requires that the name of the employer of the person who signs the form be provided.
In making the new form available, the SLD specified that in cases where states have not yet begun a procurement for a state replacement contract that would cover services for the 2005 funding year, the state should complete a Form 470 application on paper and designate the funding year as "2005." Applicants who used the online form to post a Form 470 after the close of the 2005 filing window on February 18 were expected to include language on their application to indicate that they planned to seek the services in future funding years.
Applicants who plan to seek telecommunications services and Internet access on a tariffed or month-to-month basis are expected to wait until July 1 to post a Form 470 covering the next funding year.