GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy, Information Resources Management Division, Section 508 Program Office assesses samples of Federal EIT solicitations to see if they contain the required Section 508 technical standards and sends feedback to the department/agency and the procurement officials. Here is an example of a solicitation that was revised based on the feedback an agency received from GSA's assessment team.
We received a solicitation that had a tremendous amount Section 508 language in it. We were initially thrilled that someone had taken so much time to include all of this detailed info on exactly what Section 508 meant and why it was important. After searching this extensive amount of data it became apparent that a very critical aspect was missing. Nowhere in the document did it mention how Section 508 was applicable to the desired deliverable or better yet which standards and provisions were applicable.
When addressing potential vendors it is imperative that agencies are specific about their Section 508 requirements. It would be impossible for a vendor to properly address an agencies Section 508 requirements if they are not spelled out in the solicitation. Remember it is the agencies responsibility to determine which standards apply and convey that information to the vendor. The vendor would then be able to specify if their product or services can meet the applicable standards.
As a result this solicitation was graded as non-compliant and an assessment feedback letter was sent to the agency.
But there is a bright side to this story. In January the same solicitation was again selected in our random sampling. Based on our feedback, the agency had amended their solicitation to include a detailed list of the applicable technical Section 508 provisions for the vendor. This amendment along with the detailed explanation of Section 508 will be instrumental in acquiring the desired deliverable. In addition they also identified the accessibility factors that would be used in the evaluation of proposals and acceptance criteria for inspection/testing of the delivered product and to requested accessibility information from vendor.
This agency should be congratulated on a job well done, and yes they now were the recipients of a fully compliant feedback letter!