Feds Issue D-to-A Converter RFP Notice

The Department of Commerce has issued a notification that it will issue a Request for Proposals on Jan. 26 for the digital-to-analog converter box coupon program.

The program is intended to cover the distribution and redemption of coupons good toward the converters, intended to keep legacy over-the-air analog TVs from going dark in 2009 when analog broadcasting ceases.

In the bill that declared 2009 the end of analog, Congress designated up to $1.5 billion for the converter subsidy program, including up to $160 million for administration. The bill directs that no more than two $40 coupons be provided via U.S. mail to households requesting them between Jan. 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009; that two coupons can’t be used for one converter; and that the coupons expire in three months. All other details were left to the discretion of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a division of the Commerce department.

Last July, the NTIA issued a Request for Information on how the coupon program should be handled. The agency sought feedback on three main areas: consumer education and communications; system processing (including who qualifies for a coupon, how they’re distributed and activated, and how to certify a retailer); and financial processing.

The notice of RFP, issued Jan. 4, states that the “NTIA plans to award a single contract for an end-to-end solution and execution of the coupon program that encompasses all three functional areas.”

However, the notice itself is not a final determination that the entire job will go to one bidder, according to Diane Trice, a contract specialist with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (also a division of Commerce).

“It potentially could vary based on input,” she said. “This is a formal notice, 15 days in advance, that the official RFP will go out on or about the 26th. That will have all the details, and there could be some variation. Basically, this is for companies and vendors that have expressed interest so they can prepare to get their proposals together.”