Earlier this month, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau denied three appeals by school districts seeking funding under the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund. In all three decisions, the Bureau found that the school had failed to follow the Commission’s competitive bidding rules for such requests, and therefore, the USAC had properly denied funding of the request.
The decisions highlight three elements of the competitive bidding rules: (1) that the selection of vendors be based on the bid process itself, (2) that all information be disclosed to all potential bidders and (3) that price be the primary factor in selecting vendors.
Collectively, the cases serve as a reminder to schools and service providers alike that the bid process must be fair and open in order to receive funding from the program. Both school districts and service providers need to be vigilant to avoid inadvertent violations of the e-rate program’s competitive bidding rules.