FirstNet yesterday hosted its final public meeting to address questions about its request for proposal (RFP) process for the deployment and operation of a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN), but bidders will have opportunities to continue asking questions and receive feedback until the contract is awarded, according to FirstNet officials.

FirstNet Contracting Officer Terrie Callahan provided additional details about how communications would be conducted with offerors that could result in revised bids after initial proposals are submitted by the May 13 deadline, citing a clause in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

“If you look at the FAR clauses, 52.215-1 reserves the right to have them [additional discussions] or not have them,” Callahan said during the Pre-Proposal Conference, which was webcast. “And we would have them, if I feel that it’s meaningful and that it will help [bidders]—if I need to identify any deficiencies, significant weaknesses, any adverse past-performance information and to help you ensure that you’re bring the best solutions forward in your proposals.

“We’ll make those determinations as we go along throughout the process.”

While these conversations would not happen for months, the next opportunity for potential offerors to get government feedback about their proposals is to submit capability statements by March 31. Although not required to submit a bid, offerors submitting a capability statement will get early feedback about their that should be helpful as they prepare their final bid, Callahan said.

“We encourage you to submit the capability statements,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for you, and it’s a great opportunity for us to ensure that the proposals that come in as a result are very strong, sound, nationwide solutions to meet public-safety needs.”

Callahan provided an update on progress in the question-and-answer proceeding for the FirstNet RFP, noting that 334 of the 402 questions submitted by the Feb. 12 deadline have been addressed.

“We have 68 left to go,” Callahan said. “We’re going to work around the clock, as hard as we can, to get these out as fast as we can to you. That way, it will give you good information to put into your capability statements and to help you start formulating your proposals.”

James Mitchell, director of FirstNet’s program-management office, said FirstNet officials hope to release the remaining answers to questions by the middle of next week. All questions have been answered internally, but the answers that have not been released are still going through a review process, he said.