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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

GSA offers guidance for looming telecom equipment ban compliance

As the deadline looms for contractors to comply with restrictions on using telecommunications equipment from certain Chinese manufacturers, the General Services Administration has released a guidance to help contractors navigate their way to compliance.

The rule was part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The first restriction went into effect last year and prohibited agencies from buying equipment manufactured by several Chinese companies, most notably Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. This equipment has been controversial because of concerns about national security risks.

Part two goes into effect Aug. 13 and prohibits contractors from using equipment from these manufacturers. It doesn’t matter if the equipment is not used to deliver services to the government.

The implementation of the rule has been in the works for two years but it was just July 14 when the interim rule was published. Even though it will become final and go into effect on Aug. 13, GSA is still collecting comments on its impact on contractors. The comment period ends Sept. 14.

We’ve seen this before, but it is still unfortunate to have a final rule published and the government collect comments afterward. Instead of taking one step at a time, everything is bundled together in one lump.

The 2019 NDAA includes an effective date of Aug. 13, so at this stage GSA has no choice. But one would still think they could have released something for comment before the cusp of the rule becomes final.

There is talk of Congress extending the deadline beyond Aug. 13 as part of the 2020 NDAA, but for now Aug. 13 stands.

For their part, GSA has issued the guidance as well as planning a small business webinar for July 30 and another webinar for Aug. 12.

In its guidance document, GSA lays out six actions contractors should be taking to assure they are in compliance or at least moving in that direction. The document also describes the waiver process.

GSA wants contractors to:

  • Become familiar with the regulation
  • Determine if your company uses the banned equipment
  • Educate your purchasing department and material managers to ensure they know they compliance plan.
  • If replacing equipment, make sure the replacements comply with the regulations
  • Inform the government if the banned equipment is used or discovered later during contract performance
  • Create a phase out plan.

ACT-IAC is collecting comments from companies who wish to comment but not for attribution. Nancy Delanoche is collecting those comments. Reach her at NDelanocheATactiac.org.

They also are encouraging companies to submit their own comments directly through Regulations.gov. Search for FAR Case 2019-009.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 20, 2020 at 11:19 AM

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