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Federal Acquisition Regulation; Section 508 Micropurchase Exception Sunset Provision

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCIES:

Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

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SUMMARY:

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (Councils) have agreed on a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to convert this FAR case from an interim rule to a final rule without change. The final rule amends the FAR to extend the Electronic and Information Technology (section 508) micropurchase exception to October 1, 2004.

DATES:

Effective Date: July 24, 2003.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The FAR Secretariat, Room 4035, GS Building, Washington, DC, 20405, (202) 501-4755, for information pertaining to status or publication schedules. For clarification of content, contact Ms. Linda Nelson, Procurement Analyst, at (202) 501-1900, or Ms. Angelena Moy, Case Manager, at (703) 602-1302. The TTY Federal relay number for further information is 1-800-877-8973. Please cite FAC 2001-15, FAR case 2002-012.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

DoD, GSA, and NASA published an interim rule in the Federal Register at 67 FR 80321, December 31, 2002, that amended FAR 39.204(a) to extend the Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) micropurchase exception until October 1, 2004.

The 60-day comment period for the interim rule ended March 3, 2003. Public comments were received from four commenters. One commenter submitted comments that are not relevant and outside the scope of the rule. Another commenter, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), believes that the Government is not doing enough to resolve the small purchase problem so that an exception is not needed. The AFB also believes that the Government should create tools with questions and measurements for the Federal purchaser to utilize in determining accessibility.

The remaining two commenters fully support the rule. They also submitted their views on labeling products for micropurchases made using the Government purchase card, and one of the commenter also addressed how it accomplished its internal 508 training. Summaries of these views follow:

1. Suggested that many firms in the information technology industry are unwilling to make blanket statements on a product label regarding section 508 because interpretations of the standards and product information may vary, exposing companies to litigation under the False Claims Act.

2. Stated that creating a label that would provide sufficient information to Federal buyers would be difficult and expensive.

3. Stated that the majority of the Governmentwide purchase card purchases are generally made using the Internet or by phone, and it is unlikely that the Government buyer would see the label until after the purchase.

4. Recommended that, as an alternative to labeling, the Government purchaser use the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) as a tool in making an informed decision regarding accessibility.

5. Suggested that the VPAT assists the Government in meeting the Acquisition Planning and Market Research requirements established in FAR parts 7 and 10, respectively.

6. One commenter described their intensive efforts to train their sales forces to assist purchasers in making their accessibility determinations and to put in place systems that ensure engineers include accessibility as a key design requirement.

The above views will be considered before the Government formulates its next step regarding acquisition of electronic and information technology products and services under micropurchase procedures.

We applaud industry's efforts to build accessibility features into their products and their participation in making information about product features available by completing the VPAT. We encourage industry to continue to work toward a solution that will assist the Government purchase cardholder, who may have little technical knowledge regarding section 508, in purchasing products and services that meet the applicable accessibility standards.

The Federal Government is in continual collaboration with the Accessibility Forum to focus on long-term solutions that will assist the Government in making informed decisions about section 508-related procurements. We are hopeful that a solution can be found that will be agreeable to both industry and the Government.

This is not a significant regulatory action and, therefore, was not subject to review under section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration certify that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq., because for purchases under $2,500 (a “micropurchase”), no competitive quotations have to be obtained and micropurchases are no longer reserved exclusively for small firms.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to the FAR do not impose information collection requirements that require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

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List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 39

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Dated: July 16, 2003.

Laura Auletta,

Director, Acquisition Policy Division.

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Interim Rule Adopted as Final Without Change

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Accordingly, DoD, GSA, and NASA adopt the interim rule amending

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Authority: 40 U.S.C. 121(c); 10 U.S.C. chapter 137; and 42 U.S.C. 2473(c).

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[FR Doc. 03-18539 Filed 7-23-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6820-EP-P