Thread Subject: Re: Not downgrading to 'best value'
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From: Brett, Thomas F
Date: Mon, Jan 08 2007 7:50 AM
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I think that we need to step back from 508 for a minute.
Diane said: "I don't see anything in the application section that says all products should first meet functional need and some reasonable cost benchmark before access is applied. "
An agency would not make an EIT purchase if the functional need did not exist. When a need is identified the bid proposals are supposed to be evaluated relative to how well those proposals meet the needs of the agency. An agency would not accept a proposal that only met Â¼ of the requirements. Costs will always be a consideration. Would it be expected that an agency would pay $500,000 for an EIT solution under one proposal vs. $150,000 under the other proposal?
If all of the proposals meet the agency's EIT needs and the costs are reasonable, the Section 508 Standards will then be evaluated. It is at this time that the 'best meets' term comes in. If one proposal meets 8 of the 11 standards included in the RFP and another meets 6 of the 11, the proposal that meets the 8 standards should be the one purchased.
However, just because a vendor's proposal says that they meet the 8 standards should not relieve the government of determining the accuracy of those assertions.
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From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Diane Golden
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 10:34 PM
To: TEITAC Subpart A Subcommittee
Subject: Re: [teitac-subparta] Not downgrading to 'best value'
Help me understand where in Subpart A it requires products to first "meet the basic specs you need (the product must be able to do its function at a reasonable cost)." I don't see anything in the application section that says all products should first meet functional need and some reasonable cost benchmark before access is applied.
A plain reading of undue burden and the TA support indicates that is solely applied to resources available to deliver access. The three step process you describe begines with a sort of "best value" first review in which you would identify products that meet some baseline business need and "reasonable" cost (resulting in a pool of "good and low" products instead a singular lowest and best product.) Then you would apply access requirements in a best meets reveiw. That may be a viable procurement approach, but I can't find any legal coverage for that approach in the current Subpart A language.
----- Original Message ----
From: Gregg Vanderheiden < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
To: TEITAC Subpart A Subcommittee < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Sent: Sunday, January 7, 2007 3:59:16 PM
Subject: [teitac-subparta] Not downgrading to 'best value'
This relates to the discussion about changing "best meets" to "blended with other business concerns" or 'best value" as it is also called -- because that is what people are doing anyway.
I have a concern when we talk about weakening 508 to make it easier to implement - or to match what is currently being done.
Currently 598 says
1) meet the basic specs you need (the product must be able to do its function at a reasonable cost) (undue burden clause provides this)
2) be accessible (directly or compatible with AT)
3) consider other factors such as extra features, somewhat lower cost, etc. (other value considerations)
Yes that does mean the #2 accessibility gets in the way of some of #3.
And yes - in current practice accessibility is blended with #3 - even if it shouldn't be.
But if including women's bathrooms in engineering colleges was relegated to "we'll do it if it doesn't impact the number of classrooms and labs we can have" it wouldn't (and shouldn't) fly. In fact, it is put at #1. You can't build the buildings at all unless you don't discriminate by gender.
Now accessibility is more complicated and I don't think we should be making access #1. (though there has been some discussion that SOME features should be elevated to #1 - and the ADAAG is elevated to #1 when it is built into building codes).
There is always a cost for equality. And lowering accessibility to #3 by blending it with other 'value' issues would reduce these costs only by allowing an easier path to avoid the regulations than is already true. And since it is already so easily avoided - this seems unnecessary and dangerous.
Diane accurately points out that it is being abused. But at least there is a lack of comfort in the fact that practice doesn't meet the letter of the regulations (and also not the spirit - which is reflected in the .31 performance criteria). But I don't think we should reduce the goal to match the practice. That is a spiral out the bottom.
Instead we should be looking at how to create guidelines that maintain or improve access as access gets easier with advancing and smarter technologies.
I don't think we should move it from #2 down to #3 by blending it with all other considerations.
I am sensitive to the issues that Diane and Michael raise about the difficulty for the procurement officers. I think we need to find ways to help that. But moving it from #2 to #3 doesn't really help them understand the provisions or technical aspects. It just moves it down to where it is easier to ignore in the mess of other evaluations (many of which are easier to understand and so are considered first).
I don't think moving access from #2 to #3 makes it any easier to understand or implement. Just easier to deal with or justify not following. (e.g. "It was trumped by another business consideration").
I do wish this was easier. We need to think about how to do that. But downgrading it to just another business or value factor to be blended with the rest isn't the answer.
(By the way - the fact that it is at #2 and not #1 shows that it IS already mixed with business factors (basic function and reasonable price). But it is not blended with all levels of business or value issues. The basic ones trump access. Then access trumps the lower level value functions. It has to if we are serious about it.)
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
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