October 14, 2020

Section 889 Chinese Telecommunication Restrictions Update: GSA's Frequently Asked Questions

Holland & Knight Government Contracts Blog
Christian B. Nagel
Government Contracts Blog

Federal contractors continue to receive additional information regarding the new restrictions on Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment and services under Section 889 of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Most recently, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and additional resources that provide further details on how the government plans to implement and enforce the new rules.

As a reminder, the new rules prohibit contractors from using certain telecommunications equipment and services. In particular, contractors may not use equipment and services manufactured by specified Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE. The restriction applies even if the equipment or services are not being used to perform on a government contract. This builds on the initial Section 889 rules that prohibited the delivery of such equipment and services to the government, which was implemented last year. All new government contracts and solicitations will include the new rules through Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) contract clauses. (For additional details on the rule, see previous blog post, "Rule Banning Chinese Telecommunications Equipment is Released," July 13, 2020.)

The GSA FAQs provide guidance to contracting officers, and they are helpful to contractors seeking to ensure compliance and understand the government's expectations. Perhaps most important, the FAQs and accompanying flow charts explain GSA's process for responding when a contractor indicates that it is using prohibited telecommunications equipment or services. Contractors can see from the flow charts and related FAQs that the GSA first will confirm non-compliance, then will look to additional bidders/offerors and market research before seeking a waiver for a contractor who is non-compliant.

Additional noteworthy items include:

  • a "plain English" description of the new Section 889 rules
  • confirmation that the Section 889 rules apply to all procurements (including micro-purchases)
  • details on the process of making the representations required by Section 889
  • direction that existing indefinite-delivery contracts be modified to include the new FAR contract clauses; this includes indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts, Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) and Multiple-Award Contracts (MACs)
  • details on GSA's efforts to automate the process of identifying and eliminating prohibited products from FSS contracts

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