The Form 470 posting deadline is this Thursday, if you want to be able to use the service provider selected on your Form 471 for Funding Year 2009. Anyone who's been around E-rate for any amount of time knows that a lot of scrutiny is put on the posting of a Form 470 and the service provider selection process. If you are feeling the pressure of this week's deadline, it's more important than ever to be sure that you are properly completing your Form 470, since you won't have a second chance to post another one after the deadline passes.
So, here are some things that you can do to mess up your Form 470 this week. These are things that you SHOULD NOT do. Doing some of these things may not cause problems for you immediately, but any of them will definitely cause you problems someday:
Involve a Service Provider
Allowing a service provider that might win your business as a result of your Form 470 to become inappropriately involved with the Form 470 or service provider selection process is the best way to mess up your Form 470. A service provider is only allowed to respond to the Form 470. Do not let a service provider do (or help you do) any of the following:
- develop or post the Form 470
- be a contact person on the Form 470
- respond to questions of other service providers
- evaluate Form 470 responses
A good rule of thumb: if you are asking yourself if a service provider can do something in the Form 470 process, the answer is probably "No."
Don't Check the Multi-year/Renewal Boxes When Signing a Long-term Contract
The Form 470 requires that you provide an indication of the types of contracts that you are considering entering into. This is done on Block 2, Item 7 of the Form 470. If you enter into a multi-year contract, and you've properly indicated that on the establishing Form 470, you don't have to post a Form 470 in the future years of the contract. Therefore, it's important to make sure the correct boxes in Item 7 are selected.
A good rule of thumb: if you aren't sure if you'll enter into a multi-year or renewable contract, check all of the boxes for Item 7b…they aren't binding, and it could save you from having to do a new Form 470 next year.
Say There's No RFP When There Is One
Correctly indicate that on your Form 470 whether you are doing an RFP or not for the services on the form. If you don't, the SLD will find out either during PIA, a selective review, or an audit. Then, all of the funding you've requested based on that Form 470 will be denied.
There's no rule of thumb here. Just make sure you've indicated this correctly!
Put a Service in the "Wrong" Category
The service category in which you list a service on the Form 470 is the service category that must also be selected on the Form 471. If a service is listed in a wrong category on the Form 471, the SLD will move it to the correct one. Then, if the originating Form 470 doesn't list the service in that category, your request will be denied. So, it's important to list the services you are seeking in the correct category.
A good rule of thumb: if you don't know what service category a service falls into, use the Eligible Services Search as a guide, or put in all of the possibilities–there's no penalty for that.
Don't List All of the Services You are Seeking
Every year, we receive at least one frantic e-mail from an applicant that has left something off of a Form 470, but didn't catch it until it was too late. If a service isn't on the Form 470, you won't be able to request E-rate discounts to help you pay for it.
A good rule of thumb: check, double-check, and triple-check to make sure that you list all of your services on the Form 470.
Post the Form 470 on Friday, January 16
If your Form 470 isn't posted in time, you won't be able to use it as the basis for awarding your contracts on your Funding Year 2009 requests. The deadline for posting a Form 470 is Thursday, January 15. This allows for the full 28-day posting period to run before you select service providers. But, don't wait until the deadline to post your Form 470! Doing so will only give you one day to evaluate bids, select the service provider, sign contracts, AND prepare, post, and certify your Form 471. Waiting will only increase the possibility of errors on your forms.
A good rule of thumb: post your Form 470 as soon as possible!
In addition to the six listed here, there are other ways to mess up your Form 470, so be sure that you read all of the Form 470 instructions and guidance issued by the SLD. Hopefully, if you haven't posted your Form 470 yet, you can use this blog post as advice of things not to do related to your Form 470. If you’ve already posted your Form 470 and made a mistake listed above, you can post a new Form 470 (before the deadline, of course) to correct the problem.