GSA clarifies supply chain rules

GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock) 

The General Services Administration is trying to make it a bit easier for agency acquisition managers to comply with new federal rules against buying some foreign-made telecom and video equipment.

Congress banned the use of telecom and surveillance gear from Huawei, ZTE and certain other Chinese manufacturers in federal networks in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In a memo sent out on Aug. 13, GSA's Chief Procurement Officer Jeff Koses explained a "class deviation" that requires contractors to certify that they are following the rules and also simplifies compliance for certain contracts deemed low and medium risk.

GSA's changes make ordering some telecommunications services and equipment through some of its indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts easier by requiring certification of supply-chain rules through the contract vehicle and not at the ordering level, explained Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council.

Previously, supply-chain certification was required both at the contract and ordering level. The new rules mean agency contracting officers may not have to certify at the ordering level.

Order-level and contract-level certifications requirements remain for big contracts such as the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, Networx and Alliant II.

However, contracts that aren't deemed "high risk," such as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) and building maintenance and operations contracts, won't have to certify at the ordering level.

Larry Allen, vice president managing director of federal market access at global accounting network BDO USA, said the change is subtle, but it gives contracting officers some breathing room when it comes to making sure they're in compliance with Section 889 of the NDAA.

"The only real difference here is that the [task order-level certification will be optional, not mandatory," he said.

"For contractors," said Allen, "the change means they'd better read the [modification] carefully to understand what they're really being exempt from.  It's not much in the end and, to the extent that some contractors have the same solutions on covered contracts, may not mean too much at the transaction level."

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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