Waivers for Banned Equipment

Although the purchase of Chinese produced telecommunications equipment is banned, the government is likely to see it in its supply chain for years to come. Since Section 889 law went into effect, contractors have requested waivers to keep their equipment in place and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued them. Many waivers that expired last week (30 September) have been extended for an additional two years. (Federal News Network, October 2, 2020)

One such agency requesting an extension, the U.S. Agency for International Development, requested a waiver from 889 and has been given until the end of fiscal year 2022 to remove Chinese telecom equipment. The waiver states the following, “As of September 30, 2022, the Agency statutory waiver authority ends and the Agency will not enter into any contracts with contractors using covered technology. For contractors that wish to continue to do business with USAID, it is important to phase out the use of covered technology. Recipients should ensure they have alternate funding because costs for covered technology will become unallowable. In regard to assistance (grants/cooperative agreements), the Agency will be revising its policy to extend the period of the allowability of costs for internet and telephone services for new awards made during the duration of the waiver.” (USAID Telcom Waiver, September 30, 2020)

Would you like to know more about the upcoming contracts to trade out Chinese equipment? Give us a call.

Industry Looking to GSA for Guidance

Agencies are pressuring GSA to provide guidance for meeting deadlines to modernize telecommunications. The  pandemic has delayed many agency transitions, thus making those deadlines nearly impossible to meet. (FEDSCOOP, May 12, 2020)

COVID-19 slowed task order awards under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, the government’s $50 billion telecom and network modernization channel. In some cases where task orders have been awarded, agencies can’t provide contractors clear instructions. Many believe the task order award delays impede the move from Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3, and local service area contracts.

Legacy contracts are set to expire in May 2023. The GAO expects 19 of the agencies who spend the most on EIS to be transitioned over by the legacy expiration date; however many will not meet the GSA’s more aggressive 30 September 2022 deadline. (ibid)

Allen Hill, executive director of telecom services in the Office of IT Category at GSA believes agencies will make GSA aware of the effects of the pandemic, and GSA will in turn work with agencies on a case by case basis. (ibid)

The Department of Defense has their own strategy. They are beginning to rely on the lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) source selection for EIS. DoD plans to report the methodology used to award contracts and task orders in June, once the Federal Procurement Data System modification is complete. Meanwhile, the Defense Information Systems Agency executed six EIS awards last month. Most EIS solicitations are “best value” yet agencies need to balance the overall cost of their transition with the time for implementation. (ibid)

Unfortunately, when agencies speed up transition, companies have less time to address task order requirements properly. This puts the risk on industry to provide the best value while accurately responding to agency requirements. Many task orders were written prior to the pandemic, therefore contractors are forced to address network issues while teleworking. The time it takes to address issues is naturally increased. (ibid)

“Agencies are encouraged to examine any gaps in their network infrastructures and ensure they make appropriate adjustments to their EIS task orders to provide needed capabilities. Modern IT demands modern infrastructure,” Hill stated. (ibid)

Have questions concerning a delayed task order or need one? Give us a call.