OMB again reminds agencies to comply with Section 508

Agency chief information officers and chief acquisition officers have received a reminder from the Office of Management and Budget about buying products that meet Section 508 accessibility standards.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and information technology, and Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, wrote in a joint memo that agencies are failing to include 508 standards when buying electronic or information technology products.

“Across all agencies, a recent assessment by the General Services Administration showed that only 3 percent of the solicitations that included electronic and IT properly included Section 508 standards,” the memo states. “While some of the solicitations sampled included references to Section 508, a compliant document must, among other requirements, articulate the specific 508 standards that apply to that solicitation.”

Under amendments to the Rehabilitation Act in 1998, Congress mandated that GSA assess agency compliance with Section 508.

This is the second time OMB has reminded agencies about complying with Section 508. In August 2005, Evans and David Safavian, then chief of OFPP, sent a letter to agency officials about using the General Services Administration's Buy Accessible Wizard to help comply with the statute.

Evans and Denett said CAOs and CIOs should review their procurement and IT acquisition policies to validate that these standards are considered and clearly stated in solicitations.

“CAOs should consider sampling agency procurements that include electronic and IT to ensure they properly specify the appropriate 508 standards,” the memo states. “CIOs should instruct agency project managers to review capital planning and investment controls documentation for compliance with Section 508.”

Solicitations that do not include the 508 standards should be amended, the memo states.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Access Board’s Telecommunications and Electronic and IT Advisory Committee began reviewing the 508 standards and are meeting this week to discuss those suggestions. The committee will make recommendations this month to the Access Board on how to improve the 508 standards.

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