Supply chain concerns make GSA rethink refurbished IT

laptops (Benjamin Haas/ 

As part of its big effort to consolidate its dozens of buying schedules into a single one, the General Services Administration is looking at removing a category of "grayware" IT products, according to one of the agency's top IT category managers.

GSA sought comment on the proposed rule change via FedBizOpps on June 24. The changes would gradually eliminate the sale of used and refurbished computer equipment in about four years. The agency said it would not accept new offers to enter the special item number and estimated the SIN's full retirement by mid-2024. Additionally, the rules change would also retire the daily and short-term computer rental SIN. The change, GSA said, comes as the increasing federal transition to cloud technology has made such rentals obsolete.

The change is set to be included in the overhaul of the multiple award schedule system set for the start of FY2020.

Lawrence Hale, director of the IT security subcategory in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said the move comes as IT supply chain risks grow and morph. In remarks at an Aug. 19 cybersecurity conference Hale said the refurbished IT SIN in GSA's IT Schedule 70 draws from legitimate grayware vendors. Those vendors, typically small businesses, sell overhauled IT gear for lower price points to federal agencies through the SIN.

"We want to be as proactive as possible about the provenance of the equipment" sold through GSA's contracts to federal agencies, he said.

The agency is thinking about removing the refurbished products SIN from Schedule 70 "because you can't guarantee the provenance of refurbished products," he said. "We're trying to dial the gray market down" and the exposure of federal agencies to the risk it can bring. Hale encouraged agencies that do turn to resellers to use licensed resellers.

He warned vendors that were selling questionable "gray market" and "counterfeit" technology that GSA will notify law enforcement of their activity and remove them from its schedules.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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