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Industry Groups Challenge DOJ’s Bid Portal Support

On October 7, 2022, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), State E-rate Coordinators’ Alliance (SECA), and Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) filed an ex parte letter with the Federal Communications Commission in response to the Department of Justice’s August 16 letter showing support for the FCC’s proposed competitive bidding portal. Stating their belief that the proposed portal “has the real potential to be harmful to applicants who earnestly try to comply with program rules,” the groups challenge several claims in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the DOJ’s letter of support. The letter:

  • reiterates the existing “frequent, extensive pre-funding and post-commitment auditing” of competitive bidding documentation,
  • notes that “the creation of a data analytics program is well underway” by USAC, who has “retained a contractor to develop a fraud risk framework” for the E-rate program,
  • asserts that even if a bidding portal will be implemented, it would not prevent “improper bidding practices…conducted outside the portal” or the “sharing of inside information,” and,
  • shares the groups’ concern that restrictions on communications between applicants and potential service providers “will reduce the quality of services provided to schools and libraries.”

The groups’ letter to the FCC may be viewed here.

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