GSA releases final FAR rules on Section 508

GSA releases final FAR rules on Section 508

BY JULIE BRITT AND TONY LEE ORR | GCN STAFF

The General Services Administration last week released the final Federal Acquisition Regulation guidelines for making acquisitions comply with Section 508.

The Section 508 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required that the FAR incorporate standards developed by the Access Board for making information technology accessible to disabled federal employees and other users of federal IT.

The new FAR buying rules apply to contracts awarded on or after June 25, 60 days from the April 25 publication in the Federal Register. For indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, the FAR rules cover delivery and task orders issued on or after June 25.

Officials had expected the final regulations to mirror the draft published Jan. 22, which included no specific guidance on technology requirements. At a recent GSA-sponsored meeting to discuss acquisitions and accessibility, several procurement officers decried the lack of detail in the FAR revision.

As to the call for clearer buying guidance, GSA's Deborah C. Erwin said, 'It is not happening. It is confusing, but the [FAR] is the way it is set up.'

Without detailed acquisition regulations, agencies must turn to other documents to determine if systems pass muster, said Laura Ruby, Microsoft Corp.'s regulatory program manager for accessible technology and industry affairs.

To determine technical standards, Erwin, GSA's senior assistant general counsel, suggested agencies review details laid out in the federal Access Board's rules. 'You have to read and understand them,' she said.

The Access Board regulations, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 21, are quite specific technically in parts and should help clarify the procurement regulations, said Dave Yanchulis, an accessibility specialist with the board.

Deidre A. Lee, the Defense Departments' procurement director, said, 'This rule emphasizes the willingness of government contracting officials to open communications with federal technology personnel to enhance the working environment with accessible electronic and information technology for people with disabilities.'

The new FAR revision can be found online at www.section508.gov/docs/Final99607A.htm.

inside gcn

  • When cybersecurity capabilities are paid for, but untapped

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above