The Funding Year 2015 Filing Window is rapidly approaching and many applicants have already filed their Forms 470 or are in the process of doing so. Here is a quick list of dos and don’ts for applicants as they wait for the Form 470’s 28-day waiting period to pass.
Don’t: Work on what you shouldn’t
The 28 day bidding period is a strict timeframe and is non-negotiable in the eyes of USAC. If you start selecting service providers for services listed on a pending Form 470 before the 28 days are up, you are out of compliance and risking your funding for those services. While you may want to move forward with the application, resist the temptation of working on things you shouldn’t until you have reached your allowable contract date.
Do: Work on what you can
Even though you cannot start building FRNs for services on the pending Form 470, there are things on the Form 471 that you can work on during that time. The Block 4 is a great example. While you wait on the 28 days to pass, start to gather your library or district’s student information to determine your discount percentage. Check the rural/urban status of your district on the USAC tool. You can also gather the information needed to complete the new connectivity survey that has been added to Block 4 of the Form 471.
Don’t: Have secrets
A main tenet of the E-rate program is to have an open and fair competitive bidding process. You cannot share information with one vendor but not with others. All potential bidders must be privy to the same information in order ensure a competitive bidding process.
Do: Be fair
Treat all bidders the same and be consistent in your correspondence to providers. When answering provider questions or supplying information, be certain that you are not providing greater opportunity to one bidder than you would give the rest.
Don’t: Go it alone
Applications can be torpedoed by the most simple of mistakes. If you are the only one creating applications, gathering the documentation, reviewing bids, checking for errors before submission, etc., the mistakes of “repetitive blindness” and other similar phenomena are likely to occur.
Do: Recruit help
Use the 28-days to find people that can help with the data gathering and review process. The more eyes you have on an application, the less likely an error will make it through to submission. You can also seek professional resources, such as Funds For Learning’s E-rate Resource Page, as well as subscribe to our E-rate newsletter. These are both valuable tools for staying up-to-date with the latest E-rate rules and regulations.