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Approved Products List
Network device and security companies wanting to do business with the Department of Defense might find an additional hurdle in their path: the Approved Products List (APL). The APL, managed centrally on behalf of all military services by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is a list of network infrastructure and voice, video and data services that have gone through testing for interoperability, as well as security.
The APL is a bit of a barrier not only because testing is long and expensive, which it is, but also because companies can't initiate the process on their own. Instead, a DoD sponsor must do so. The key is finding an effective sponsor willing to stick his or her neck out for you.
When people refer to Section 508, they're talking about rules surrounding accessibility of information and communication technology for people with disabilities. The goal is for disabled users to have access to IT functions comparable to those that nondisabled users have. The name comes from an amendment added in 1986 to the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 requiring contracting officers to buy the most accessible technology available. National security systems are exempt from Section 508, as are products located in places frequented only by service personnel for maintenance, repair or occasional monitoring. You can find current accessibility standards on the website of the Access Board, an independent federal agency.
While government prime contractors are typically aware of these mandates and policies, many leading technology manufacturers and software developers are not. As a government channel partner, always try to point manufacturers to solid information about these and other government requirements and encourage them to get involved in the standard setting processes because the government wants to take advantage of the best commercial technology and practices.
The preceding information was adapted and digested from the book "The Inside Guide to the Federal IT Market," published by Management Concepts Press. For more information, visit www.insideguidetofederalit.com. Steve Charles is a co-founder of immixGroup, which helps technology companies do business with government. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer on technology and the federal procurement process. He can be reached at Steve_Charles@immixGroup.com.