The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a new report highlighting GSA’s failure to address prohibited telecom items on its Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. The report states that this puts customers at risk of unauthorized surveillance by foreign adversaries. In 2017 and 2018, Congress passed laws prohibiting the procurement of certain telecom and video surveillance services from specific entities, with FAS responsible for ensuring compliance. However, the OIG report reveals that FAS’s reliance on contractor self-certifications and the Prohibited Products Robomod process is inadequate in preventing the inclusion of prohibited items on MAS contract price lists. (MerriTalk July 11,2023)
The report also identifies FAS’s shortcomings in taking sufficient action against contractors violating Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) restrictions, as well as the lack of a process to notify customer agencies about purchases of prohibited telecom items. Furthermore, FAS initially failed to comply with FAR requirements by not including subsidiaries and affiliates of named entities in their efforts to identify prohibited items on MAS contracts. To address these issues, the OIG has made five recommendations to FAS Commissioner Sonny Hashmi, including strengthening controls and implementing more stringent consequences for non-compliant contractors. (ibid)
This report from the GSA’s OIG follows the release of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “Covered List,” which prohibits the sale of telecom network equipment and services from certain China-based providers due to national security concerns. The FCC’s ban aims to safeguard the nation’s communications networks and enhance the security and resilience of the domestic supply chain. These efforts reflect the commitment of both agencies to protect national security and mitigate risks associated with unauthorized telecommunications equipment and services. (ibid)
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