With the release of the FCC Sixth Report and Order, the FCC codified the regulations regarding gifts from service providers to align with the gift rules applicable to federal agencies. Historically applicants have had to certify on the Form 471 that they have not received anything of value or the promise of anything of value other than services and equipment requested on the Form 471. The Sixth Report and Order explicitly lists gift-giving as one example of prohibitive conduct in the competitive bidding process. According to the Order, applicants now must follow either their own state/local laws regarding gifting or the FCC rules, whichever is stricter.
Applicants and/or other school personnel are prohibited from soliciting and/or receiving gifts or anything of value from a service provider who is participating in or seeking to participate in the E-rate program. Additionally, service providers may not offer or provide gifts to any personnel involved in the E-rate process. Modest refreshments not offered as a part of a meal or items with little to no intrinsic value, such as plaques or certificates, are acceptable. An exception to this rule is that gifts and/or meals are permissible if the total value of that gift and/or meal is less than $20.00 and does not exceed a $50.00 total value per funding year, per employee. Lastly, the Order further clarifies that the new gift rules are not intended to discourage companies from making charitable contributions to schools, as long as those contributions are not directly or indirectly related to an E-rate procurement.