Section 508 requirements apply to ICT acquisitions, even "when the supplies or services required by the agency are available from only one responsible source" (FAR 6.302-1). When ICT is delivered to agencies, they are responsible to ensure that it conforms to applicable Section 508 accessibility requirements from the Access Board Standard (CFR 1194). The best way to meet this responsibility is to require in the contract that the vendor provide conformant ICT. Review the information below and use available BuyAccessible tools, resources, and guidance to help you meet these responsibilities.
Procurement of ICT products from a single source must generally be supported with a Justification according to FAR 6.303. Often the Sole Source Justification is based on a unique vendor capability or due to a follow-on contract for the continued development or production of an ICT system.
Section 508 Due Diligence for Sole Source Acquisitions
Consider Section 508 when Documenting Sole Source Justifications
The program requiring authority should identify appropriate Section 508 accessibility requirements and conduct market research to understand if the identified vendor will provide ICT products or services that meet them. If the expected ICT deliverable does not meet accessibility requirements, communicate that fact to management and agency executives. Help to explore the extent to which conformance would impose significant difficulty or expense (undue burden) on the agency.
Don't Forget Section 508 for ICT Information, Documentation, and Support
Make sure to consider requirements from the Access Board Standard CFR 1194 Subpart D for ICT information and documentation, as well as vendor support.
Appropriate Due Diligence Depends On How You Specify ICT Deliverables
ICT Specified by Brand Name Only
Often a Sole Source acquisition specifies a Brand Name Only deliverable. When an exact match Brand Name Only item is specified in an RFP the product functionality (including accessibility) is generally already fixed - documenting additional requirements as part of the RFP will not change the pre-existing product. In this case you must consider Section 508 requirements when documenting the Sole Source/Brand Name Only justification.
ICT Specified by Features and Functions
Even though a solicitation is not full and open competition, the resulting ICT deliverables must meet applicable Section 508 accessibility requirements from the Access Board Standard (CFR 1194), unless the product function meets the criteria for a general exception. This is no different from any other ICT acquisition - there are four important considerations when developing the requirements for these RFP solicitations.
- Determine How Section 508 Applies.
- Identify specific deliverables and distinguish each ICT deliverable subject to Section 508.
- Assess each deliverable for a Section 508 exception and provide detailed justification if making an exception claim.
- Define specific Section 508 requirements for each ICT deliverable.
- Document the functions, features, and physical or performance characteristics that the ICT must meet.
- Based on those features and functions, consider technical and functional performance requirements from the Access Board Standard (CFR 1194).
- Document how Section 508 requirements will be included in proposal evaluation.
- Request vendor accessibility information be included as part of the proposals.
- Include Section 508 requirements as inspection/acceptance criteria for ICT deliverables.
- Make clear that Section 508 is a necessary requirement!
Common Mistakes in Section 508 Due Diligence
- Not including Section508 in Agency Sole Source decisions.
- Not considering Section 508 requirements when documenting a Sole Source Justification.
- Not conducting accessibility market research for a Brand Name exact match ICT product.
- Not considering Section 508 requirements for ICT information, documentation, and support.