Practical Applications on the Chinese Tech Ban

On 23 July, the Defense Department released a memo explaining requirements for companies and contractors when the ban of telecommunications equipment made by Huawei and other China-based companies goes into effect. (Federal Computer Week, July 27, 2020)

Beginning 13 August, no contracts will be issued or extended to contractors using technologies or services and equipment made by Hikvision, ZTE or those listed in section 889(a)(1)(B) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. Any contract, task/delivery order, and off-the-shelf items purchased after 13 August must include language invoking regulation for the ban. Additionally, indefinite delivery contracts are required to be modified. (ibid)

There is a waiver process, however, pursuable by agencies. According to Alan Dhvotkin PSC executive vice president and counsel, the waiver “will most likely begin with issues identified by the telecommunications provider to its federal agency customer. The federal agency then asks for an ODNI review, which will conduct a risk assessment.” A granted waiver lasts two years and may be requested at any time. (Federal Computer Week, July 22, 2020)

Have questions or need a waiver? Give us a call.

 

What Brand is Your Telcom and Video?

Section 889 of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act was passed to fight national security and intellectual property threats to the United States.  The legislation includes two prohibitions Part A and Part B. (GSA Section 889 Industry Focused Flyer, GSA.gov, July 16, 2020)

Part A, which became effective on August 13, 2019 bans telecommunications/video surveillance equipment made by the following companies:

  • Huawei Technologies Company
  • ZTE Corporation
  • Hytera Communications Corporation
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
  • Dahua Technology Company

Part A can be found in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at FAR subpart 2.1.

Part B, effective 13 August 2020, prohibits the government from contracting with any organization that uses equipment or services of any of the companies listed under Part A. Part B applies, whether or not that usage is in performance of work under a Federal contract. In other words, if you use any of the banned companies in the fulfillment of a  non-government contract, you will be prohibited from working with the government. All contractors must verify whether they do or do not use prohibited telecommunications/video surveillance equipment or services. Part B has been added to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at FAR subpart 4.21. (ibid)

GSA recommends companies to complete an in-depth review of all in-house technology to rule out using banned companies in Part A . If prohibited equipment or services are being used, companies that wish to continue doing business with the government must eliminate them. GSA does not take responsibility for changes contractors make, unless done so by a modification to a current contract.

However, two possible waiver procedures with extremely high standards are available. This is to ensure waivers are not used to get “around” the prohibitions.

GSA is modifying all solicitations, Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDVs), GWACs, and other IDIQ contracts, to include Section 889 Part B requirements immediately. These requirements will be added to GSA’s existing non-IDV contracts as those contracts have their periods of performance extended.

GSA is hosting the following events so that industry may obtain additional guidance:

  1. The GSA Office of Small Business Utilization webinar on Section 889, July 30, 2020, 2:00 p.m. EST, registration may be found here.
  2. GSA recorded virtual webinar August 12, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. EST, registration forthcoming. This webinar will include leaders from GSA’s business lines explaining how they are implementing Section 889 into their business lines and panelists will answer pre-collected questions. (Questions may be sent to gsaombudsman@gsa.gov to arrive by COB August 5, 2020.) (ibid)

GSA recommends that vendors study the tools and publications to aid their understanding and compliance, as provided in Acquisition.gov.

Not certain if your contract is affected by Section 889 Part B and if so, what you can do? Give us a call.

Time to Sign the Dotted Line

If you are one of the 15 percent of contractors who have yet to accept GSA’s consolidation Mass Modification, do it now. The deadline is 31 July 2020. All contractors failing to accept the Mass Mod will have their offerings removed from GSA’s eTools platform. (Fedscoop July 13, 2020)

Jessica Salmoiraghi, the associate administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy, recently said contractors that fail to accept the mass mod are basically losing out on business, while the contractors who have accepted are realizing orders. (ibid)

As GSA moves further into Phase 2 of MAS consolidation, they are automating parts of the contracting process. This includes its Truman bot, designed to automatically review new contractors based on the MAS. The bot is automating the new offer review process by checking the excluded parties list and pre-filling templates. (ibid)

The third and final phase of MAS Consolidation is expected in the second half of 2020.

Need assistance getting your acceptance to GSA’s mass mod completed in the next two weeks? Give us a call.

Easier EULA Review Ahead?

GSA wants to shorten review time for end-user license agreements (EULAs) through an artificial intelligence and machine learning challenge. The challenge comes with a $2,500 cash prize and will be given to three teams who develop the top AI or ML solution to review EULAs terms and conditions. One of the selected teams will receive an additional cash prize of $12,500. (Fedscoop, July 6, 2020)

On average, a GSA contracting officer takes one or two weeks to review EULAs, but we have experienced wait times of much longer — even up to six months — when GSA legal gets involved. EULAs give specifics on the legal use of software and services; GSA ensures that the terms and conditions are compliant with government rules and regulations.

The current process is manual and mandatory prior to contract award or modification. However, with the right AI or ML solution, the document review can be automated and flagged for questionable language. (ibid)

GSA provided the following: training data, reference documents, and a sample validation file. All solutions submitted must accept the EULA documents in Microsoft Word and PDF formats. (ibid)

Solutions will be scored on a scale of 1-5 in the following areas:

  • technical evaluation
  • functionality and user interface
  • creativity and innovation
  • quality of demonstration

All solutions are the sole financial responsibility of the entrant, who retain ownership of the solution. GSA receives an irrevocable, paid, and royalty-free license to use and reproduce the three winners’ solutions.

Solutions must be submitted by August 20, 2020.

Questions about the challenge and the submission of your solution? Give us a call.

Can Alliant 2 Be “Newer, Better” ?

GSA has finally put us all out of our Alliant 2 Small Business misery. Last week they canceled the acquisition contract. The original award was wrought with confusion, protests, and court disputes, so cancellation isn’t that surprising. (Nextgov, July 2, 2020)

However, GSA promises that the small business IT instrument will live on in a newer, better solicitation. Keep your eyes peeled for the larger and newly structured solicitation. No word yet on the release date of the new solicitation. (ibid)

Laura Stanton, acting GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Information Technology when announcing the cancelation said, “The needs of our customer agencies, small business partners, and industry partners are rapidly evolving, GSA is committed to finding ways for our GWACs to reflect the current IT marketplace so that we can maximize the opportunities for small and women-owned, HUBzone, service-disables veteran-owned, and 8(a) small businesses to contract with the government for cybersecurity, emerging technology, and IT supply chain risk management needs.”

Stanton also said, “we are working to expand the number of master contract awards to highly qualified small businesses on our GWACs, while focusing on technology requirements that support our customer agencies for future mission success.” (ibid)

Questions about the cancellation and or the upcoming solicitation? Give us a call.