FCC Clarifies Form 470 Description Rules
On December 7, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission released an Order which codifies that a competitive bidding violation occurs when applicants reference a “specific manufacturer’s name, brand, product or service” on their Form 470 or RFP without including the phrase “or equivalent.” In the Order, the FCC clarified that “…for Form 470s or RFPs posted for Funding Year 2013 or thereafter, applicants must not include the manufacturer’s name or brand on their FCC Form 470 or in their RFPs unless they also use the words ‘or equivalent’ to describe the requested product or service…”
The Order was the result of a FY 2009 appeal submitted by an applicant which had been denied funding because it listed a specific service provider on its Form 470. In its decision, the FCC granted the applicant’s appeal, stating that they “decline to penalize” applicants who engaged in this practice before the Order was published. On December 3, 2010, USAC released a News Brief to stakeholders which suggested that this practice would constitute a competitive bidding violation, which could result in denial of funding requests.