A recent review of solicitations posted on FedBizOpps (FBO) offered several examples of good and not so good practices documenting solicitations for maintenance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products. Section 508 requirements for ICT maintenance are often simply absent, but when they are included there is a range in quality of the solicitation language used. Here are three examples of not so good, better, and best solicitation language for maintenance of ICT.
Not So Good:
“All quotes submitted acknowledge that they are in compliance with Section 508 policy.” This is an example of the use of standard Section 508 solicitation language. We do not generally encourage the use of standard Section 508 language, but at least it draws some attention to Section 508 and provides a possibility for the agency to request vendor remediation in case an ICT deliverable is not conformant. This example of standard contract language is less effective because it does not include specific Section 508 requirements identified by the agency, as well as Section 508 acceptance criteria for conformance to these requirements by ICT maintenance deliverables as shown in the “Best” example below.
“Maintenance shall include bug fixes, patches, and technical support. This requirement is for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which must meet the accessibility standards established by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 7941). The specific Technical Standard that applies is Technical Standard: 1194.21 – Software Applications and Operating Systems and Functional Performance Criteria is: 1194.31. In responding to the RFQ, vendors must state if the products offered meet the identified Technical Standards. General information regarding the Section 508 Act can be found at the web site www.section508.gov.” This standard Section 508 solicitation language is much more specific and effective. The main problem is that it does not say how offerors will be evaluated on Section 508 criteria. Offerors cannot claim ahead of time that bug fixes, patches, or technical support meet the specified technical standards. Furthermore, the requirements of 1194.41 Information, Documentation and Support should have been included.
“Section 508 Program Need Requirements for accessibility based on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d) are determined to be relevant for the following program need: Printer Maintenance...Solicitation respondents must describe how their background and experience will enable them to at least meet those technical provisions …Functional performance criteria …[and] Information, documentation, and support requirements …identified as applicable in the attached Government Product/Service Accessibility Template (GPAT)” This language was taken directly from a BuyAccessible Quick Link. (To find it, review Quick Links and then select “Printer Maintenance” from the drop down menu.) Offerors will be evaluated on their Section 508 background and experience. Conformance of the ICT maintenance deliverables (e.g. bug fixes, patches, modifications, technical support, etc.) to Section 508 will be determined by inspection and testing based on the identified Section 508 requirements as part of contract management.