GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program

Solicitation Do and Don't

Since 2006 GSA's Section 508 team has conducted a solicitation monitoring program to gain insight into how well Section 508 accessibility requirements are correctly considered in government procurements which contain deliverables related to ICT, and to provide agencies with information about what can be done to improve this performance. Below are the criteria that used in the solicitation evaluation to determine if it complies with Section 508.

Evaluation Criteria -- Things you should include in your solicitation:

  1. Identification of 1194 Subpart B: Technical Sections and Provisions: It is the agency's responsibility to include the applicable technical sections and provisions for all ICT contract deliverables. While it is good to make a general statement about the applicability of Section 1194 Subpart B, solicitations should identify specific applicable sections (e.g. 1194.2x) or applicable provisions (e.g. 1194.2x(y)) for all ICT content. For example, a web application would certainly include provisions from 1194.22, and may also include provisions from 1194.21. If all provisions apply, you can state that; if only certain provisions apply, it is good to state that as well.
  2. Identification of 1194 Subpart C: Functional Performance Criteria: Solicitations for ICT should generally identify the functional performance criteria defined in Section 1194 Subpart C. Referencing Subpart C serves to cover requirements that are not explicitly listed in as provisions in Subpart B.
  3. Identification of 1194 Subpart D: Information, Documentation and Support: Solicitations for ICT should identify whether or not information, documentation, and support requirements apply to support documentation and services provided by agencies to end users of the acquired ICT according to Section 1194 Subpart D.

Evaluation Criteria -- Things you should avoid in your solicitation:

  1. Vague or No Section 508 Reference: A very vague mention of Section 508 (or no mention of Section 508 at all) is insufficient to indicate to prospective vendors how and if Section 508 applies.
  2. Transferring Section 508 relevance determination responsibility to vendor: The determination whether or not Section 508 applies is the responsibility of the agency, as outlined in FAR 39.203, and can and should not be delegated to the vendor. This determination can be made by evaluating whether or not the expected deliverables are ICT.
  3. Transferring Section 508 applicability determination responsibility to vendor: The Transferring Section 508 applicability determination responsibility to vendor: The determination of which Section 508 standards apply is the responsibility of the agency as outlined in FAR 39.203. The agency should indicate the appropriate technical sections (e.g. 1194.2x, 1194.31 and 1194.41) and the appropriate provisions within these sections that apply. Assistance can and should be requested from the vendor in the form of a VPAT or other accessibility template.
  4. Transferring Section 508 exception determination responsibility to vendor: The determination of a Section 508 exception is the responsibility of the agency and cannot be delegated to the vendor. Unless an exception at FAR 39.204 applies, acquisitions of ICT supplies and services must meet the applicable accessibility standards at 36 CFR part 1194.
  5. Asking for a certificate of compliance (or implying it): Solicitation evaluations should be based in part on the proposal responsiveness to the identified Section 508 requirements and considerations for accessibility. Potential vendors should be asked to provide proof of conformance with these requirements through the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or other information. This proof of conformance is not the same as a request for a certificate of compliance as there is currently no certifying body for Section 508 accessibility.
  6. Posting inaccessible documentation: Because the solicitation is issued via FebBizOpps, it is web-based internet information and therefore covered by 1194.22: Web-based intranet and internet information and applications. All documents and attachments associated with this solicitation should be in an accessible format.