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Released: July 30, 2014
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1084

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of

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Petition for Reconsideration by

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Chicago Public Schools

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File Nos. SLD-819303

Chicago, Illinois

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Schools and Libraries Universal Service

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CC Docket No. 02-6

Support Mechanism

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ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: July 30, 2014

Released: July 30, 2014

By the Chief, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau:

1.

Consistent with precedent,1 we dismiss a petition for reconsideration filed by Chicago

Public Schools (CPS)2 of a decision by the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) finding that CPS

violated the Commission’s competitive bidding rules for the E-rate program (more formally known as the

schools and libraries universal service support program).3

CPS seeks reconsideration of the Bureau’s

Central Technology Center Order, to the extent it denied CPS’s request for review and/or waiver of the

decision made by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to deny CPS’s request for E-

rate funding for internal connections in funding year 2011. For the reasons explained below, we dismiss

the Petition for Reconsideration as procedurally defective. In addition, as an alternative and independent

basis for the decision, we affirm our previous denial of CPS’s request for waiver on the merits.

2.

Dismissal. In its decision, USAC found that CPS violated section 54.503(c)(4) of our rules,

which requires an E-rate applicant to wait “at least four weeks from the date on which its description of

services is posted on [USAC’s] website before making commitments with the selected providers of

services.”4

Specifically, USAC found that the FCC Form 470 filed by CPS that established its

1 See Application for Review of the Decision of the Universal Service Administrator by Aberdeen School District, et

al., Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, CC Docket No. 02-6, Order, 22 FCC Rcd 8757

(2007) (Aberdeen School District Order) (denying an appeal for an applicant that requested E-rate program funds

without posting an FCC Form 470 for the services); see also Request for Review of the Decision of the Universal

Service Administrator by Albert Lea Area Schools, et al., CC Docket No. 02-6, Order, 24 FCC Rcd 4533 (Wireline

Comp. Bur. 2009) (Albert Lea Order) (denying the appeal of applicants that filed FCC Forms 470 that did not

include the types of services for which the applicants later requested E-rate funding).

2 Petition for Reconsideration by Chicago Public Schools, CC Docket No. 02-6 (filed June 8, 2012) (Petition for

Reconsideration).

3 Requests for Waiver of Decisions of the Universal Service Administrator by Central Technology Center et al.;

Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, CC Docket No. 02-6, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5086

(Wireline Comp. Bur. 2012) (Central Technology Center Order) (finding that eight petitioners, including CPS,

violated the Commission’s competitive bidding requirements and that the Petitioners did not demonstrate that good

cause existed to justify a waiver of the Commission’s competitive bidding requirements).

4 47 C.F.R. §54.503(c)(4); see also Letter from USAC, Schools and Libraries Division, to Pamela D. Flowers,

Chicago Public Schools, at 3 (dated Feb. 14, 2012) (USAC Decision Letter) (regarding CPS Funding Year 2011

FCC Form 471 application number 819303, funding request number 2228423).

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1084

competitive bidding process did not indicate that CPS sought internal connections service, and therefore

CPS had not put those services out for bid for 28-days as required by our rules.5

3.

CPS sought review of USAC’s decision, arguing that it satisfied the Commission’s

competitive bidding requirements because CPS’s omission of internal connections on its FCC Form 470

was a ministerial and clerical error, this omission did not stifle competition, and the Request for Proposals

(RFP), which was referenced on CPS’s FCC Form 470, included a full description of each service sought

by CPS and that RFP was posted on CPS’s website for 28 days.6

In the alternative, CPS requested a

waiver of the rules on the basis that the omission of internal connections from the list of services for

which it sought competitive bids on its FCC Form 470 was a ministerial error that did not stifle

competition.7

Based on our review of the record, we denied the request for review and/or waiver.8

Specifically, we found that CPS had not demonstrated that good cause existed to justify a waiver of the

Commission’s rules and we otherwise declined to grant CPS’s request for review.9

4.

In its Petition for Reconsideration, CPS seeks reconsideration only of its request for a

waiver.10

Our rules provide that a petition for reconsideration will only be entertained if it relies on facts

or arguments that have changed or were unknown to the petitioner when it previously filed its appeal.11

In the Petition for Reconsideration, CPS merely restates the facts and arguments it previously asserted in

the CPS Appeal.12

We have already fully considered and rejected these facts and arguments.13

Therefore,

we dismiss the Petition for Reconsideration pursuant to section 1.106(p)(3) of the Commission’s rules.14

5.

Denial. In addition, although it is unnecessary to reach the merits of the Petition for

Reconsideration, independently, and in the alternative, we deny the Petition for Reconsideration on the

merits. In denying the CPS Appeal, we relied on the Commission’s rules and precedent that require

5 See USAC Decision Letter at 3. On its FCC Form 470, CPS identified basic maintenance of internal connections

as the only service category for which it sought bids. See FCC Form 470, CPS (posted Sept. 15, 2010) (CPS FCC

Form 470 number 750890000853166).

6 See Letter from Anthony Mcphearson, Acting Chief Information Officers, Chicago Public Schools, to Marlene H.

Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, CC Docket No. 02-6, at 1-2 (filed Mar. 13, 2012) (CPS

Appeal).

7 See id. at 2-3.

8 See Central Technology Center Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5086, para. 1.

9 Id. at 5087, para. 3.

10 See Petition for Reconsideration at 5 (“[T]he Commission should grant this petition, waive Section 54.503(c)(4)

with respect to the underlying Form 470 (for funding years 2011-2013), and remand CPS’s funding request to

USAC for further consideration on the merits.”).

11 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.106(b)(2).

12 See, e.g., CPS Appeal at 2 (“We did not select the boxes to include Internal Connections. However, the associated

RFP did request bids on the internal connections services.”); id. (“this ministerial error did not dissuade vendors

from bidding on the RFP.”); Petition for Reconsideration, at 3-4 (“[CPS] mistakenly identified Item 11 (‘Basic

Maintenance of Internal Connections’) as the only service category required by CPS. By mere oversight, CPS did

not also select Item 10 (‘Internal Connections Other than Basic Maintenance’).”); id. at 4 (“[T]he associated RFP

included a full description of each service sought by CPS and invited potential vendors to submit competitive bids

for the provision of such services (including Internal Connections service) . . . .”); id. at 12 (“CPS’s ministerial and

clerical mistake had no material impact on the competitive bidding process . . . .”).

13 See Central Technology Center Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5086, para. 3.

14 47 C.F.R. §1.106(p)(3) (allowing the Commission to dismiss petitions for reconsideration that rely on arguments

that have been fully considered and rejected by the Commission within the same proceeding).

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1084

applicants seeking waivers to demonstrate that special circumstances warrant a deviation from the general

rule, and that such deviation would better serve the public interest than strict adherence to the general

rule.15

While CPS suggests that the Central Technology Center Order did not discuss the facts presented

by CPS,16 we find that our denial was fully supported by cited precedent.

6.

In its Petition for Reconsideration, CPS seeks a waiver of section 54.503(c)(4) of the

Commission’s rules.17

Although it does not affect our ultimate conclusion in this proceeding, we clarify

that, in addition to violating section 54.503(c)(4) of the Commission’s rules, CPS also violated section

54.503(b), which requires applicants to “seek competitive bids . . . for all services eligible for support.”18

Because CPS’s FCC Form 470 did not indicate that CPS sought bids on internal connections services and

CPS later requested E-rate funding for these services, CPS also violated section 54.503(b).19

7.

Accounting for this additional rule violation, we find that CPS has not demonstrated the

existence of special circumstances to warrant a waiver of sections 54.503(c)(4) or 54.503(b). Waiver of

the Commission’s rules is appropriate only if both (i) special circumstances warrant a deviation from the

general rule, and (ii) such deviation will serve the public interest.20

CPS first argues that the omission of

internal connections on its FCC Form 470 is a ministerial or clerical error that constitutes special

circumstances that the Commission has previously found to warrant a waiver.21

We disagree with CPS’s

contention that failure to identify the services for which it is seeking competitive bids is a mere

ministerial or clerical error. The types of errors that the Commission has waived as “ministerial or

clerical” errors include mistyping a number or using the wrong name or phone number,22 errors that could

not have resulted in the applicants receiving more funding than they were entitled to.23

By contrast,

identification on the FCC Form 470 of all services for which an applicant is seeking competitive bids, and

posting of that FCC Form 470 for at least 28 days, is fundamental to the competitive bidding

requirements of the E-rate program.24 Because of the importance of the competitive bidding process to

15 See Central Technology Center Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 5086, para. 1 (citing Aberdeen School District Order, 22

FCC Rcd 8757; Request for Review of the Decision of the Universal Service Administrator by Henrico County

School District, CC Docket No. 96-45, Order, 17 FCC Rcd 706 (Com. Car. Bur. 2002)). Generally, the

Commission’s rules may be waived if good cause is shown. 47 C.F.R. § 1.3. The Commission may exercise its

discretion to waive a rule where the particular facts make strict compliance inconsistent with the public interest.

Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (Northeast Cellular). In addition,

the Commission may take into account considerations of hardship, equity, or more effective implementation of

overall policy on an individual basis. WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969); Northeast

Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166. Waiver of the Commission’s rules is appropriate only if both (i) special circumstances

warrant a deviation from the general rule, and (ii) such deviation will serve the public interest. Northeast Cellular,

897 F.2d at 1166.

16 See Petition for Reconsideration at 5.

17 See id. at 1-2, 5.

18 47 C.F.R. §54.503(b).

19 Id.; see also Albert Lea Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 4542, para. 15.

20 Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990).

21 Petition for Reconsideration at 6-12.

22 See, e.g., Schools and Libraries Universal Support Mechanism, CC Docket No. 02-6, Order, 26 FCC Rcd 6487,

6489, para. 5 (2011) (“[Clerical and ministerial] errors include only the kinds of errors that a typist might make

when entering data from one list to another, such as mistyping a number, using the wrong name or phone number,

failing to enter an item from the source list onto the application, or making an arithmetic error.”).

23 See Aberdeen School District Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 8762, para. 7.

24 See, e.g., Albert Lea Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 4542, para. 15.

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1084

the program, the Commission has consistently required that all potential bidders be treated equally and

that no bidders receive an unfair advantage.25 Failure by an applicant to identify the services on which it

is seeking bids on the FCC Form 470, and therefore to seek bids on those services by virtue of having that

FCC Form 470 available for consideration for at least 28 days, undermines the framework of the

competitive bidding process by suppressing fair and open competitive bidding.26

As a result, the Bureau

has declined to grant waivers to applicants who submit funding requests for services not included on such

applicants’ FCC Form 470.27

8.

CPS also argues that special circumstances exist here because its omission of internal

connections on its FCC Form 470 did not negatively impact the competitive bidding process.28

To

support this contention, CPS cites to the fact that (1) its RFP identified the services for which CPS later

requested E-rate funding and (2) CPS received the same number of vendor responses to its RFP seeking

bids for internal connections services in funding year 2011 as it received when it previously sought E-rate

bids for similar services in 2005.29

However, internal connections, by their very nature, are separate and

distinct from the basic maintenance services for which CPS indicated it was seeking bids.30

As a result, a

vendor who sells internal connections components would not necessarily also provide the maintenance of

those products. Accordingly, a vendor interested in bidding on internal connections would, after

reviewing CPS’s FCC Form 470, have had no reason to inspect the CPS RFP to find out that CPS was

seeking bids for internal connections. Failure to identify the services on which an applicant is seeking

bids necessarily stifles potential competition and therefore prevents USAC from determining whether the

applicant has made the most cost-effective purchasing decisions.31

Moreover, the fact that CPS received

the same number of vendor responses in one year as it did in another is not evidence of how many

responses it would have received in funding year 2011 if its FCC Form 470 had properly provided notice

to all vendors of CPS’s interest in seeking bids on internal connections. Thus, CPS has failed to present

special circumstances that warrant deviation from the general rule.32

We, therefore, affirm USAC’s

denial of E-rate funds to CPS and our Central Technology Center Order.

9.

ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4

and 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151-154 and 254, and sections

0.91, 0.291, 1.3, 1.106, and 54.722(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 1.3, 1.106 and

25 See, e.g., Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, CC Docket No. 02-6, Third Report and

Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 18 FCC Rcd 26912, 26939, para. 66 (2003) (stating that

a fair and open competitive bidding process is critical to preventing waste, fraud, and abuse of program resources).

26 See Albert Lea Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 4542, para. 15.

27 See id. at 4542, para. 15-16.

28 Petition for Reconsideration at 12-14.

29 Id.

30 Compare USAC, Schools and Libraries, Funding Year 2012 Eligible Services List, at 12, available at

http://www.usac.org/_res/documents/sl/pdf/ESL_archive/EligibleServicesList-2012.pdf (last visited Jun. 3, 2014)

(“Internal Connections are components located at the applicant site that are necessary to transport information to

classrooms, publicly accessible rooms of a library, and to eligible administrative areas or buildings.”), with id. at 21

(“The following basic maintenance services are eligible: Repair and upkeep of eligible hardware[,] Wire and cable

maintenance[,] Basic technical support[, and] Configuration changes[.]”).

31 See Albert Lea Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 4542, para. 16 (“Because the petitioners did not comply with the

Commission’s competitive bidding rules and therefore did not ensure that the requested services were the most cost-

effective, we find that the petitioners . . . have not demonstrated that special circumstances warrant deviation from

the general rule.”).

32 See id.

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1084

54.722(a), that the Petition for Reconsideration filed by CPS IS DISMISSED, and as an independent and

alternative basis for the decision, the Petition for Reconsideration is also DENIED on the merits.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Vickie S. Robinson

Acting Chief

Telecommunications Access Policy Division

Wireline Competition Bureau

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