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Interim Section 508 Acquisition Policy Guidance Memo

January 16, 2008

TO:Heads of Contracting Activity
Section 508 Officials
FROM:

Martin J. Brown
Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Acquisition Management and Policy

Eileen Elias, M.Ed.
Deputy Director, Office on Disability

SUBJECT:Interim Section 508 Acquisition Policy Guidance

 

In 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC 794d)) to significantly expand and strengthen the requirement that Federal agencies make their electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services accessible to persons with disabilities.

The HHS Office on Disability (OD) is responsible for department-wide implementation of, and adherence to, this law. Each Operating/Staff Division (OPDIV/STAFFDIV), through its designated Section 508 Officials and Coordinators, is responsible for providing local direction and ensuring compliance with the HHS implementation of the statute.

Due to recent concerns regarding unsubstantiated vendor claims related to Section 508 standards conformance, and to minimize potential agency risk, the OD and the Section 508 Program Team (comprised of designated OPDIV/STAFFDIV Section 508 Coordinators and other representatives) coordinated with the ASAM Office of Acquisition Management and Policy to develop revised acquisition guidance for implementation of HHS Section 508 program policy. The attached Health and Human Services Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR) interim guidance explains the purpose of the regulatory changes, which expand on existing guidance and strengthen HHS’ implementation of Section 508 program policy.

Effective upon issuance of this memorandum, these changes apply to new contracts and orders for applicable EIT product and service requirements. We plan to formally incorporate this guidance in the next HHSAR update. Additional guidance regarding the acquisition of Section 508-compliant communications products and services and HHS website management services will be provided separately. Further, we plan to update the Acquisition Workforce Training and Certification Handbook to include the Section 508 training offered by the OD, as well as the HHS Purchase Card Guide to reinforce the need for Section 508 compliance for purchase card transactions.

HHS Section 508 EIT policy, other resource materials, and the list of responsible Section 508 Officials, Coordinators, and other contacts/technical resources for each OPDIV/STAFFDIV are available at: http://www.hhs.gov/web/508.

If you have any questions regarding the HHS Section 508 policy, please direct them to Ms. Eileen Elias, M.Ed., Deputy Director, Office on Disability. Ms. Elias may be reached at eileen.elias@hhs.gov or on 202-205-1104. For any questions on contractual implementation of Section 508 policy, please contact Cheryl Howe, ASAM/OAMP at cheryl.howe@hhs.gov or on 202-690-5552.

Attachment

cc: Executive Officers
Section 508 Program Team
Prudence Goforth, OASPA
Mary Oliver-Anderson, OCIO