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R--Communication Access-Real-Time Translation Services (CART) Houston, TX 362

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Program Summary
Title: R--Communication Access-Real-Time Translation Services (CART) Houston, TX 362
SBContract Opps ID: NBD00159043626331764
Document Type: Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
State: District of Columbia
Agency: (Federal) Department of Veterans Affairs
FSC Code: R - Professional, Administrative and Management Support Services
NAICS Code: 541930 - Translation and Interpretation Services
Set Aside: Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
Solicitation No.: 36C10E19Q0219
Source: Members Only
Place of
Performance:

Posted Date:
Jul 12, 2019
Last Update: Jul 12, 2019
Due Date: Aug 02, 2019

Point of Contact
, , Phone: Fax: rebecca.quilhot@va.gov

Description  
Opportunity History
  • Original Synopsis
    Jul 11, 2019
    3:53 pm
Solicitation Number :
36C10E19Q0219
Notice Type :
Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
Synopsis :
Added: Jul 11, 2019 3:53 pm
This is a combined synopsis/solicitation for commercial items prepared in accordance with the format in Subpart 12.6, as supplemented with additional information included in this notice. This announcement constitutes the only solicitation; quotes are being requested and a written solicitation will not be issued.

Solicitation 36C10E19Q0219 is issued as a request for quote (RFQ).

The solicitation incorporates provisions and clauses in effect through Federal Acquisition Circular 2019-02, effective May 6, 2019.

The solicitation is set aside 100% for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. The applicable NAICS Code for this solicitation is 541930 and the Small Business Size limitation is $7.5 Million. This solicitation is set-aside exclusively for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) concerns in accordance with Public Law 109-461, Veterans First Program. Only offers from SDVOSB concerns that are registered and verified in the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) Vendor Information Pages (VIP) website at https://www.vip.vetbiz.gov/ at the time date set for receipt of offers shall be considered for award. Offers from SDVOSB concerns that are not registered shall be rejected as non-responsive and shall not be considered for award.

The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to accomplish the deliverables as described in the Statement of Work below (section vi).

Please provide pricing for Line Items 0001 - 4002 for the Base and all Option years, on the Price/Cost Schedule below.

Description of Requirement Statement of Work

COMMUNICATION ACCESS REAL-TIME TRANSLATION

(CART) SERVICES

HOUSTON REGIONAL OFFICE

A. BACKGROUND

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Office, Houston TX requires Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) services for a VA employee located at the Frank Tejeda Outpatient Clinic, 5788 Eckert Road, San Antonio TX 78240-3900. Services may also be required at various locations for training and conferences. Those locations shall be identified at the time they are needed.

B. SCOPE OF WORK

The purpose of this contract is to obtain onsite Communication Access Realtime Translation or Captioning services (hereinafter referred to as CART) for various meetings, training, etc for the deaf and hard of hearing employees (hereinafter referred to as deaf) on an as needed basis at the Frank Tejeda Outpatient Clinic, 5788 Eckert Road, San Antonio TX 78240-3900. Services may also be required at various locations for training and conferences. Those locations shall be identified at the time they are needed to include written transcription consecutively from:

B.1 On-site CART Services requiring stenotype machines, laptop, and applicable software

B.2 Remote CART Services requiring VA approved secure link for Text Media Streaming

The Contractor will provide CART writer(s) for each assignment(s). Such services are also referred to as Realtime captioning or live-event captioning which transcribes the audio portion or spoken word into readable English text using a stenotype machine, CART/Captioning software and a laptop. Captions appear on a computer monitor or other displays which provides a complete translation of all spoken words and environmental sounds for the benefit of an individual consumer or larger group in a variety of settings, anywhere communication access is needed.

The Contractor shall provide onsite and remote CART services with all necessary personnel and equipment (hereinafter referred to as writers) as requested on an as needed basis, which shall perform the work identified in this PWS.

For onsite requests, contactor must supply the laptop, stenotype machine, and applicable CART/Captioning software and all hardware for connecting the devices. Software must be able to adjust the size of the fonts to match the needs of employees with low vision.

For remote requests, contractor must supply stenotype machine, applicable CART/Captioning software, and a VA approved secure link for the transmission of Text Media Streaming. Compatibility with Windows 10 or later, and Internet Explorer version 11.0 or later. The secure link for Text Media Streaming must also be compatible with Android Operating Systems, Apple Operating Systems, and other Mobile Operating Systems for mobile devices.

THE CONTRACTOR WILL HAVE NO ACCESS TO VA COMPUTERS, PROGRAMS OR SYSTEMS.

B.3 A sample list of onsite and remote CART events is provided below. Certain situations require that the writer be onsite. This list is not inclusive and is subject to change dependent upon the requirements of VA - Houston:

1. Staff meetings,

2. Discussions on work procedures, policies, or assignments,

3. Quarterly performance discussions, (Onsite required for some situations)

4. Annual performance appraisals,

5. Disciplinary discussions,

6. Basic staff training, (Onsite required for some situations)

7. Classroom training, (Onsite)

8. All Hands meetings, (Onsite)

9. Teleconferences, and Other ad hoc assignments similar in nature on an as-need basis

Contractor shall provide all services, materials, training and equipment if necessary to deliver live captioning services for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Contractor shall assist the Government by providing live CART captioning services for the hearing impaired. Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) captioning is a voice-to-captioner-to- text process that transcribes the spoken word as readable English text. CART captioning is also known as real-time captioning or live-event captioning. The Contractor will attend online meetings via skype to deliver live captioning at the employee s home office location in San Antonio, TX and will also provide services for special training events in Houston, TX, and other special training services in various cities nationwide. All work shall be completed during live sessions with the Statement of Work and the contract terms and conditions set forth herein. All work shall be completed during live sessions and onsite, with the best industry standards and to the satisfaction of the Contracting Officer. The VA will notify the captioning Contractor at least 72-hours in advance of required services. If the VA should have an urgent request, contractor shall allow VA a 24-hour notice. The hourly rate for all assignments shall remain the same regardless of the amount of time needed (i.e. 1 hour, 8 hours or 40 hours). In the event of an urgent request where the VA is unable to give the contractor a 72-hour notice, contractor shall provide a captioner and be allowed to charge VA an emergency hourly rate (see price/cost schedule) regardless of the amount of time needed.

The contractor shall arrive early to the assignment and allow sufficient time for set up. The contractor will be required to provide their own equipment which shall contain Internet connection in the room where the meeting or event will be taking place. Compatible remote captioning software shall also be provided and downloaded free of charge and instructions shall be provided. A high-quality microphone shall also be provided that can be connected to the computer that has the internet connection and captioning software.

Contractor shall provide an unedited/edited transcript as requested.

C. KNOWLEDGE/SKILLS/CERTIFICATIONS

Contractor shall have the following knowledge and skill sets:

a. Excellent touch-typing, spelling and grammatical skills

b. Responsible, detail-oriented and able to work quickly and accurately under pressure

c. Excellent knowledge of English grammar, especially English punctuation

d. Able to work with minimum to no supervision

e. Able to create and edit transcripts when requested.

Contractor shall be certified and maintain the following Certifications:

CCP (Certified CART Provider)

CRR (Certified Real-time Reporter)

RPR (Registered Professional Reporter)

D. QUALIFICATIONS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS:

D.1 Qualifications. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires the provision of qualified CART providers in a variety of settings. To satisfy this requirement, the Contractor shall provide captionist(s) possessing the knowledge, skill and ability to produce complete, accurate, simultaneous translation and display of any live-event setting, utilizing computer-aided translation at speeds of 225+ words per minute with an accuracy of 95% or better. Proficiency will be evaluated based on the comments received from the hearing, deaf, and hard of hearing employees.

D.1.2 Equipment Requirements. As is the normal business practice, the captionist(s) shall provide their own equipment (stenotype machine, real time software, link to Secure Text Media Streaming website for remote assignments, and laptop) during assignment(s). VA Houston will supply a large screen monitor when applicable.

D.1.3 Culture and Language. Captionists must have a familiarity with the culture and language of the VA. Knowledge of specific industry jargon and acronyms are essential to the quality of the services provided.

D.1.4 Professional Conduct. Captionist(s) shall be dressed in business or business-casual attire when on-site. It is understood that the captionist(s) shall not act as an agent or employee of the Federal Government or VA. The captionist(s) shall not discuss personal business, distribute personal business cards or promotion of personal cause while on assignment in order to develop clientele from assignments originating from the Federal Government or VA. The captionist(s) shall adhere to the Federal Government s rules of protocol, ethics, procedures and professionalism while on assignment at VA. Any professional conduct in question warrants an immediate review at the discretion of the COR and the Contracting Officer.

All parties involved agree that all information obtained while on assignment be kept strictly confidential and shall not be used or disclosed to others after completed assignment.

D.1.5 Licenses. The Contractor shall be responsible for obtaining all necessary licenses and for complying with all applicable Federal, State and local laws. The Contractor shall maintain updated copies of any applicable licenses and certifications for all Contractor personnel and subcontractors and make available to the Government upon request.

E. PERFORMANCE.

Captioners shall strive to write verbatim what is said by all voices. Surrounding activities are included for context, ie., laughter, sirens, telephones. Multiple speakers are identified to facilitate comprehension of the conversation.

The spoken words are displayed verbatim in English on a screen. The steno outlines are translated into English based on the personal dictionary that is compiled by individual captioner. When a word is not in the dictionary, the steno outline is displayed in a phonetic format. Sometimes this untranslated text is easily discernible. In other cases, it must be edited to provide accurate translation. Job dictionaries can be created to accommodate specific categories of terms, i.e., technical, medical, scientific.

Captioners shall strive to write verbatim what is said by all voices. Surrounding activities are included for context, ie., laughter, sirens, telephones. Multiple speakers are identified to facilitate comprehension of the conversation.

The spoken words are displayed verbatim in English on a screen. The steno outlines are translated into English based on the personal dictionary that is compiled by individual captioner. When a word is not in the dictionary, the steno outline is displayed in a phonetic format. Sometimes this untranslated text is easily discernible. In other cases, it must be edited to provide accurate translation. Job dictionaries can be created to accommodate specific categories of terms, i.e., technical, medical, scientific.

Contractor captionists must arrive no later than thirty (30) minutes prior to scheduled assignment to clear security for onsite assignments. Upon clearing security, captionist(s) must contact the COR or designee for assistance with accessing the facility, as required. The COR or designee is responsible for ensuring that captionist(s) are signed-in upon arrival, escorted to the event(s) where the service is needed, and ensuring the captionist(s) is escorted to the check-out location, as necessary. The Contractor shall not bill the Agency for any of the time described in this paragraph.

Contractor captionists must log onto VA approved secure link for Text Media Streaming website no later than ten (10) minutes prior to scheduled assignment for remote assignments. The COR or designee is responsible for ensuring that writer(s) are connected for Remote CART assignments and all open connections are terminated, as necessary.

F. REQUEST NOTIFICATION TIME SCHEDULE

F.1 Method of Requesting Services. The COR or designee shall contact the Contractor POC primarily via e-mail, and secondarily via telephone or SMS Text Message, with requests for, changes to or cancellations of CART services.

F.2 Request Notification Time Schedule. The Contractor must be able to provide CART services for requests received at least two (3) business days in advance. Business hours are defined as Monday through Friday (0800 1700), except Federal Holidays. Upon receipt of request, the Contractor shall provide to the COR or designee in writing (email is acceptable) receipt confirmation within one (1) business day of receipt of request. For on-site requests, the name of the assigned captionist(s) shall be provided to the COR or designee in writing (email is acceptable) no later than one (1) business day prior to start of assignment. For remote requests, the name of the assigned captionist(s) and the DFAS approved secure link for Text Media Streaming shall be provided to the COR or designee in writing no less than four (4) hours prior to the start of assignment. Note: The COR or designee will provide all applicable information to the employee requiring services.

If, however, the Government should require CART services with less than two (2) business days notice, the Contractor shall attempt to provide a captionist, but the Government understands that the Contractor may not always be able to comply with such a request and therefore shall have the right to refuse the assignment.

F.3 Agency Provided Information at time of Request.

The COR or designee will provide the Contractor POC the following information at time of Request:

Type of service required (Remote or on-site). (Reference B.1)

Start/End Date to include daily start and end times.

On-site POC information for Contractor if other than COR to include office location, telephone number and email address. If no information is provided, it should be expected that the COR will be the primary point of contact for that request.

Name(s) of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Employee(s)

Description of event (i.e. staff meeting, training, awards ceremony, etc.). (Reference B.3 for list of types of events applicable.)

Location of event(s), remote or on-site. For remote assignments the COR or designee will provide the contractor with a secure DFAS established bridge-line or other secure approved virtual meeting room and ensure access for the Contractor for audio purposes.

If available, copies of speeches, documents, program specific acronym lists, training materials that will be used during the event in advance of the event. However, there will be occasions when it is not possible for the Government to provide these materials in advance.

The Contractor POC is responsible for ensuring personnel and subcontractors have complete and accurate job information prior to day of assignment.

G. CANCELLATIONS/REDUCTIONS IN DURATION.

ALL INVOICING ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SECTION SHALL BE BASED ON THE NUMBER OF SERVICES HOURS ACTUALLY AFFECTED.

G.1 Cancellations: The Government may cancel the services no less than three (3) business days in advance with no penalty or charges assessed. For assignments of one day or less, if the Contractor is not notified of a cancellation at least three (3) business days prior to the scheduled assignment, the Contractor may invoice for the assignment s requested scheduled time. For multi-day assignments, if the Contractor is not notified of a cancellation at least three (3) business days prior to the first day of the scheduled assignment, the Contractor may invoice for any days that fall within that timeframe. If the assignment is cancelled or reduced in duration on the first or any subsequent day, the Contractor may invoice for any days that fall within the 3-day cancellation timeframe. Designated lunch breaks are billable. In lieu of assessing a cancellation fee, the COR or designee and the Contractor can mutually agree to reassign the interpreter(s) to another service request covered by this PWS without incurring cancellation charges at the hourly rate established if assigned captioner is available.

If a Contractor captionist appears for an assignment and the necessary parties fail to appear after 30 minutes of the scheduled start time of the assignment, the interpreter may leave and the Contractor may invoice for that day s requested scheduled time.

If the Contractor captionist does not meet qualifications (reference A.4) or fails to appear at the event location within fifteen (15) minutes of the scheduled assignment start time, the assignment may be cancelled. The Government shall not incur any charges associated with such cancellations.

H. KEPT APPOINTMENTS BILLABLE SERVICE HOURS.

The assignment is considered complete when either of the following occurs: 1.) conclusion of event equals or exceeds the scheduled duration specified when scheduling the request or 2.) the COR or designee releases the captionist(s).

Assignments exceeding the original requested scheduled time shall be invoiced in half (A) hour increments for the actual duration of the assignment rounding up or down to the nearest half (1/2) hour.

Meals and other breaks are billable as they have been incorporated into the overall requested scheduled time.

For examples, if the COR coordinates and schedules a request for an assignment that is anticipated to last from:

8:00 am 2:00 pm but the assignment actually lasts from 8:00 am to 11:30 am and no reassignment offered, the Contractor shall bill the Agency for six (6) hours of service.

8:00 am 4:00 pm but the assignment actually lasts from 8:00 am to 4:48 pm and includes a one (1) hour lunch break, the Contractor shall bill the Agency for nine hours (9) of service.

Monday Friday, 8:00 am 4:00 pm (includes a daily one (1) hour lunch break) but concludes for any reason on Tuesday by 3:30 pm, the Contractor shall bill the Agency for any days within the 3-business day cancellation timeframe.

The calculations in the above examples are based on one captionist per assignment. If multiple captionists are provided, each captionist s hours would be calculated individually and then tallied together for invoicing the fixed price for the specified assignment.

Billable hours are not affected by the number actual captionists required to fill an assignment slot that would normally be covered by one captionist. For example, an assignment scheduled for eight (8) hours and the Contractor sends one pair of captionists for the morning shift and then a second pair of captionists to cover the afternoon shift for a total a four captionists to cover the one (1) day assignment, the Contractor shall invoice only for a total of sixteen (16) hours.

No travel costs or per diem will be reimbursed for travel.

I. EVALUATION OF SERVICES.

Recipients of CART services may provide feedback on the quality of the services received to the COR. This feedback will be provided to the Contractor POC by the COR within seven (7) business days of receipt of feedback. The Contractor shall take appropriate action based on the feedback and provide the COR with a written response to the feedback within seven (7) business days of receipt of feedback.

The COR and the Contractor POC will meet every six (6) months, unless mutually agreed to otherwise, to conduct a quality review of services being provided by the Contractor.

J. NUMBER OF WRITERS REQUIRED PER ASSIGNMENT.

The number of captionists required per assignment is subject to the discretion of the assigned COR.

vii. Period of Performance: 12-month base period followed by four 12-month option periods.

ITEM NO.

DESCRIPTION

QTY

UNIT

UNIT

PRICE

AMOUNT





0001









0002









1001











1002









2001











2002







3001









3002







4001









4002







The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to provide Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Services for a VA Employee based in San Antonio, TX assigned to the VA Regional Office, Houston TX in accordance with the above-mentioned Performance Work Statement (PWS).

Contract Period: Base Year

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2019

POP End Date: 08-14-2020

Upcharge on hourly rate for any request for services provided by the VA less than 72 hours in advance of the date the services are requested. (NOTE: This is only the amount of increase per hour that would be added to Line Item 0001)

Contract Period: Base Year

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2019

POP End Date: 08-14-2020

The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to provide Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Services for a VA Employee based in San Antonio, TX assigned to the VA Regional Office, Houston TX in accordance with the above-mentioned Performance Work Statement (PWS).

Contract Period: Option Year 1

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2020

POP End Date: 08-14-2021

Upcharge on hourly rate for any request for services provided by the VA less than 72 hours in advance of the date the services are requested. (NOTE: This is only the amount of increase per hour that would be added to Line Item 1001)

Contract Period: Option Year 1

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2020

POP End Date: 08-14-2021

The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to provide Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Services for a VA Employee based in San Antonio, TX assigned to the VA Regional Office, Houston TX in accordance with the above-mentioned Performance Work Statement (PWS).

Contract Period: Option Year 2

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2021

POP End Date: 08-14-2022

Upcharge on hourly rate for any request for services provided by the VA less than 72 hours in advance of the date the services are requested. (NOTE: This is only the amount of increase per hour that would be added to Line Item 2001)

Contract Period: Option Year 2

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2021

POP End Date: 08-14-2022

The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to provide Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Services for a VA Employee based in San Antonio, TX assigned to the VA Regional Office, Houston TX in accordance with the above-mentioned Performance Work Statement (PWS).

Contract Period: Option Year 3

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2022

POP End Date: 08-14-2023

Upcharge on hourly rate for any request for services provided by the VA less than 72 hours in advance of the date the services are requested. (NOTE: This is only the amount of increase per hour that would be added to Line Item 3001)

Contract Period: Option Year 3

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2022

POP End Date: 08-14-2023

The contractor shall provide all resources necessary to provide Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) Services for a VA Employee based in San Antonio, TX assigned to the VA Regional Office, Houston TX in accordance with the above-mentioned Performance Work Statement (PWS).

Contract Period: Option Year 4

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2023

POP End Date: 08-14-2024

Upcharge on hourly rate for any request for services provided by the VA less than 72 hours in advance of the date the services are requested. (NOTE: This is only the amount of increase per hour that would be added to Line Item 4001)

Contract Period: Option Year 4

POP Begin Date: 08-15-2023

POP End Date: 08-14-2024

TOTAL: (Base and all Options)

100









0









100











0









100











0







100









0







100









0







HR









EA









HR











EA









HR











HR







HR









HR







HR









HR







$__________









$__________









$__________











$__________









$__________











$__________







$___________









$__________







$__________









$__________

$_________









$___________









$___________











$___________









$___________











$___________







$___________









$___________







$__________









$__________









$___________





viii. FAR 52.212-1, Instructions to Offerors Commercial Items, applies to this solicitation. The following provisions and clauses are added as addenda:

52.204-7 System for Award Management (OCT 2018)

52.204-16 Commercial and Government Entity Code Reporting (JUL 2016)

52.217-5 Evaluation of Options (JUL 1990)

52.252-1 Solicitation Provisions Incorporated By Reference (FEB 1998)

This solicitation incorporates one or more solicitation provisions by reference, with the same force and effect as if there were given in full text. Upon request, the Contracting Officer will make their full text available. The offeror is cautioned that the listed provisions may include blocks that must be completed by the offeror and submitted with its quotation or offer. In lieu of submitting the full text of those provisions, the offeror may identify the provision by paragraph identifier and provide the appropriate information with its quotation or offer. Also, the full text of a solicitation provision may be accessed electronically at this/these address(es):

http://www.acquisition.gov/far/index.html

http://www.va.gov/oal/library/vaar/

(End of Provision)

(End of Addendum to 52.212-1)

ix. FAR 52.212-2, Evaluation Commercial Items (OCT 2014), applies to this solicitation.

(a) The Government will award a contract resulting from this solicitation to the responsible offeror whose offer conforming to the solicitation will be most advantageous to the Government, price and other factors considered. The following factors shall be used to evaluate offers:

Price (award will be made to the lowest priced quoter that meets the specifications listed within the RFQ)

(b) Options. The Government will evaluate offers for award purposes by adding the total price for all options to the total price for the basic requirement. The Government may determine that an offer is unacceptable if the option prices are significantly unbalanced. Evaluation of options shall not obligate the Government to exercise the option(s).

(c) A written notice of award or acceptance of an offer, mailed or otherwise furnished to the successful offeror within the time for acceptance specified in the offer, shall result in a binding contract without further action by either party. Before the offer's specified expiration time, the Government may accept an offer (or part of an offer), whether or not there are negotiations after its receipt, unless a written notice of withdrawal is received before award.

(End of Provision)

x. FAR 52.212-3, Offeror Representations and Certifications Commercial Items (NOV 2017) applies to this solicitation. The offeror has completed the annual representations and certifications electronically via the SAM website access through http://www.acquisition.gov. After reviewing the SAM database information, the offeror verifies by submission of this offer that the representations and certifications currently posted electronically at FAR 52.212-3, Offeror Representations and Certifications Commercial Items, have been entered or updated in the last 12 months, are current, accurate, complete, and applicable to this solicitation (including the business size standard applicable to the NAICS code referenced for this solicitation), as of the date of this offer and are incorporated in this offer by reference (see FAR 4.1201), except for paragraphs ____________.

xi. FAR 52.212-4, Contract Terms and Conditions Commercial Items (JAN 2017) applies to this solicitation. The following provisions and clauses are added as addenda:

IT CONTRACT SECURITY

VA INFORMATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEM SECURITY/PRIVACY

1. GENERAL

Contractors, contractor personnel, subcontractors, and subcontractor personnel shall be subject to the same Federal laws, regulations, standards, and VA Directives and Handbooks as VA and VA personnel regarding information and information system security. Contractors must follow policies and procedures outlined in VA Directive 6500, Information Security Program which is available at: http://www1.va.gov/vapubs and its handbooks to ensure appropriate security controls are in place.

2. ACCESS TO VA INFORMATION AND VA INFORMATION SYSTEMS

a. A contractor/subcontractor shall request logical (technical) or physical access to VA information and VA information systems for their employees, subcontractors, and affiliates only to the extent necessary to perform the services specified in the contract, agreement, or task order.

b. All contractors, subcontractors, and third-party servicers and associates working with VA information are subject to the same investigative requirements as those of VA appointees or employees who have access to the same types of information. The level and process of background security investigations for contractors must be in accordance with VA Directive and Handbook 0710, Personnel Suitability and Security Program. The Office for Operations, Security, and Preparedness is responsible for these policies and procedures.

c. Contract personnel who require access to national security programs must have a valid security clearance. National Industrial Security Program (NISP) was established by Executive Order 12829 to ensure that cleared U.S. defense industry contract personnel safeguard the classified information in their possession while performing work on contracts, programs, bids, or research and development efforts. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not have a Memorandum of Agreement with Defense Security Service (DSS). Verification of a Security Clearance must be processed through the Special Security Officer located in the Planning and National Security Service within the Office of Operations, Security, and Preparedness.

d. Custom software development and outsourced operations must be located in the U.S. to the maximum extent practical. If such services are proposed to be performed abroad and are not disallowed by other VA policy or mandates, the contractor/subcontractor must state where all non-U.S. services are provided and detail a security plan, deemed to be acceptable by VA, specifically to address mitigation of the resulting problems of communication, control, data protection, and so forth. Location within the U.S. may be an evaluation factor.

e. The contractor or subcontractor must notify the Contracting Officer immediately when an employee working on a VA system or with access to VA information is reassigned or leaves the contractor or subcontractor's employ. The Contracting Officer must also be notified immediately by the contractor or subcontractor prior to an unfriendly termination.

3. VA INFORMATION CUSTODIAL LANGUAGE

a. Information made available to the contractor or subcontractor by VA for the performance or administration of this contract or information developed by the contractor/subcontractor in performance or administration of the contract shall be used only for those purposes and shall not be used in any other way without the prior written agreement of the VA. This clause expressly limits the contractor/subcontractor's rights to use data as described in Rights in Data - General, FAR 52.227-14(d) (1).

b. VA information should not be co-mingled, if possible, with any other data on the contractors/subcontractor's information systems or media storage systems in order to ensure VA requirements related to data protection and media sanitization can be met. If co-mingling must be allowed to meet the requirements of the business need, the contractor must ensure that VA's information is returned to the VA or destroyed in accordance with VA's sanitization requirements. VA reserves the right to conduct on site inspections of contractor and subcontractor IT resources to ensure data security controls, separation of data and job duties, and destruction/media sanitization procedures are in compliance with VA directive requirements.

c. Prior to termination or completion of this contract, contractor/ subcontractor must not destroy information received from VA, or gathered/ created by the contractor in the course of performing this contract without prior written approval by the VA. Any data destruction done on behalf of VA by a contractor/subcontractor must be done in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements as outlined in VA Directive 6300, Records and Information Management and its Handbook 6300.1 Records Management Procedures, applicable VA Records Control Schedules, and VA Handbook 6500.1, Electronic Media Sanitization. Self-certification by the contractor that the data destruction requirements above have been met must be sent to the VA Contracting Officer within 30 days of termination of the contract.

d. The contractor/subcontractor must receive, gather, store, back up, maintain, use, disclose and dispose of VA information only in compliance with the terms of the contract and applicable Federal and VA information confidentiality and security laws, regulations and policies. If Federal or VA information confidentiality and security laws, regulations and policies become applicable to the VA information or information systems after execution of the contract, or if NIST issues or updates applicable FIPS or Special Publications (SP) after execution of this contract, the parties agree to negotiate in good faith to implement the information confidentiality and security laws, regulations and policies in this contract.

e. The contractor/subcontractor shall not make copies of VA information except as authorized and necessary to perform the terms of the agreement or to preserve electronic information stored on contractor/subcontractor electronic storage media for restoration in case any electronic equipment or data used by the contractor/subcontractor needs to be restored to an operating state. If copies are made for restoration purposes, after the restoration is complete, the copies must be appropriately destroyed.

f. If VA determines that the contractor has violated any of the information confidentiality, privacy, and security provisions of the contract, it shall be sufficient grounds for VA to withhold payment to the contractor or third party or terminate the contract for default or terminate for cause under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 12.

g. If a VHA contract is terminated for cause, the associated BAA must also be terminated and appropriate actions taken in accordance with VHA Handbook 1600.01, Business Associate Agreements. Absent an agreement to use or disclose protected health information, there is no business associate relationship.

h. The contractor/subcontractor must store, transport, or transmit VA sensitive information in an encrypted form, using VA-approved encryption tools that are, at a minimum, FIPS 140-2 validated.

i. The contractor/subcontractor's firewall and Web services security controls, if applicable, shall meet or exceed VA's minimum requirements. VA Configuration Guidelines are available upon request.

j. Except for uses and disclosures of VA information authorized by this contract for performance of the contract, the contractor/subcontractor may use and disclose VA information only in two other situations: (i) in response to a qualifying order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or (ii) with VA's prior written approval. The contractor/subcontractor must refer all requests for, demands for production of, or inquiries about, VA information and information systems to the VA contracting officer for response.

k. Notwithstanding the provision above, the contractor/subcontractor shall not release VA records protected by Title 38 U.S.C. 5705, confidentiality of medical quality assurance records and/or Title 38 U.S.C. 7332, confidentiality of certain health records pertaining to drug addiction, sickle cell anemia, alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or infection with human immunodeficiency virus. If the contractor/subcontractor is in receipt of a court order or other requests for the above mentioned information, that contractor/subcontractor shall immediately refer such court orders or other requests to the VA contracting officer for response.

l. For service that involves the storage, generating, transmitting, or exchanging of VA sensitive information but does not require C&A or an MOU-ISA for system interconnection, the contractor/subcontractor must complete a Contractor Security Control Assessment (CSCA) on a yearly basis and provide it to the COR.

4. INFORMATION SYSTEM DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT

Reserved

5. INFORMATION SYSTEM HOSTING, OPERATION, MAINTENANCE, OR USE

a. For information systems that are hosted, operated, maintained, or used on behalf of VA at non-VA facilities, contractors/subcontractors are fully responsible and accountable for ensuring compliance with all HIPAA, Privacy Act, FISMA, NIST, FIPS, and VA security and privacy directives and handbooks. This includes conducting compliant risk assessments, routine vulnerability scanning, system patching and change management procedures, and the completion of an acceptable contingency plan for each system. The contractor's security control procedures must be equivalent, to those procedures used to secure VA systems. A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) must also be provided to the COR and approved by VA Privacy Service prior to operational approval. All external Internet connections to VA's network involving VA information must be reviewed and approved by VA prior to implementation.

b. Adequate security controls for collecting, processing, transmitting, and storing of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), as determined by the VA Privacy Service, must be in place, tested, and approved by VA prior to hosting, operation, maintenance, or use of the information system, or systems by or on behalf of VA. These security controls are to be assessed and stated within the PIA and if these controls are determined not to be in place, or inadequate, a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) must be submitted and approved prior to the collection of PII.

c. Outsourcing (contractor facility, contractor equipment or contractor staff) of systems or network operations, telecommunications services, or other managed services requires certification and accreditation (authorization) (C&A) of the contractor's systems in accordance with VA Handbook 6500.3, Certification and Accreditation and/or the VA OCS Certification Program Office. Government- owned (government facility or government equipment) contractor-operated systems, third party or business partner networks require memorandums of understanding and interconnection agreements (MOU-ISA) which detail what data types are shared, who has access, and the appropriate level of security controls for all systems connected to VA networks.

d. The contractor/subcontractor's system must adhere to all FISMA, FIPS, and NIST standards related to the annual FISMA security controls assessment and review and update the PIA. Any deficiencies noted during this assessment must be provided to the VA contracting officer and the ISO for entry into VA's POA&M management process. The contractor/subcontractor must use VA's POA&M process to document planned remedial actions to address any deficiencies in information security policies, procedures, and practices, and the completion of those activities. Security deficiencies must be corrected within the timeframes approved by the government. Contractor/subcontractor procedures are subject to periodic, unannounced assessments by VA officials, including the VA Office of Inspector General. The physical security aspects associated with contractor/ subcontractor activities must also be subject to such assessments. If major changes to the system occur that may affect the privacy or security of the data or the system, the C&A of the system may need to be reviewed, retested and re- authorized per VA Handbook 6500.3. This may require reviewing and updating all the documentation (PIA, System Security Plan, Contingency Plan). The Certification Program Office can provide guidance on whether a new C&A would be necessary.

e. The contractor/subcontractor must conduct an annual self-assessment on all systems and outsourced services as required. Both hard copy and electronic copies of the assessment must be provided to the COR. The government reserves the right to conduct such an assessment using government personnel or another contractor/subcontractor. The contractor/subcontractor must take appropriate and timely action (this can be specified in the contract) to correct or mitigate any weaknesses discovered during such testing, generally at no additional cost.

f. VA prohibits the installation and use of personally-owned or contractor/ subcontractor-owned equipment or software on VA's network. If non-VA owned equipment must be used to fulfill the requirements of a contract, it must be stated in the service agreement, SOW or contract. All of the security controls required for government furnished equipment (GFE) must be utilized in approved other equipment (OE) and must be funded by the owner of the equipment. All remote systems must be equipped with, and use, a VA-approved antivirus (AV) software and a personal (host-based or enclave based) firewall that is configured with a VA-approved configuration. Software must be kept current, including all critical updates and patches. Owners of approved OE are responsible for providing and maintaining the anti-viral software and the firewall on the non-VA owned OE.

g. All electronic storage media used on non-VA leased or non-VA owned IT equipment that is used to store, process, or access VA information must be handled in adherence with VA Handbook 6500.1, Electronic Media Sanitization upon: (i) completion or termination of the contract or (ii) disposal or return of the IT equipment by the contractor/subcontractor or any person acting on behalf of the contractor/subcontractor, whichever is earlier. Media (hard drives, optical disks, CDs, back-up tapes, etc.) used by the contractors/ subcontractors that contain VA information must be returned to the VA for sanitization or destruction or the contractor/subcontractor must self-certify that the media has been disposed of per 6500.1 requirements. This must be completed within 30 days of termination of the contract.

h. Bio-Medical devices and other equipment or systems containing media (hard drives, optical disks, etc.) with VA sensitive information must not be returned to the vendor at the end of lease, for trade-in, or other purposes. The options are:

(1) Vendor must accept the system without the drive;

(2) VA's initial medical device purchase includes a spare drive which must be installed in place of the original drive at time of turn-in; or

(3) VA must reimburse the company for media at a reasonable open market replacement cost at time of purchase.

(4) Due to the highly specialized and sometimes proprietary hardware and software associated with medical equipment/systems, if it is not possible for the VA to retain the hard drive, then;

(a) The equipment vendor must have an existing BAA if the device being traded in has sensitive information stored on it and hard drive(s) from the system are being returned physically intact; and

(b) Any fixed hard drive on the device must be non-destructively sanitized to the greatest extent possible without negatively impacting system operation. Selective clearing down to patient data folder level is recommended using VA approved and validated overwriting technologies/methods/tools. Applicable media sanitization specifications need to be pre-approved and described in the purchase order or contract.

(c) A statement needs to be signed by the Director (System Owner) that states that the drive could not be removed and that (a) and (b) controls above are in place and completed. The ISO needs to maintain the documentation.

6. SECURITY INCIDENT INVESTIGATION

a. The term "security incident" means an event that has, or could have, resulted in unauthorized access to, loss or damage to VA assets, or sensitive information, or an action that breaches VA security procedures. The contractor/ subcontractor shall immediately notify the COR and simultaneously, the designated ISO and Privacy Officer for the contract of any known or suspected security/privacy incidents, or any unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information, including that contained in system(s) to which the contractor/ subcontractor has access.

b. To the extent known by the contractor/subcontractor, the contractor/ subcontractor's notice to VA shall identify the information involved, the circumstances surrounding the incident (including to whom, how, when, and where the VA information or assets were placed at risk or compromised), and any other information that the contractor/subcontractor considers relevant.

c. With respect to unsecured protected health information, the business associate is deemed to have discovered a data breach when the business associate knew or should have known of a breach of such information. Upon discovery, the business associate must notify the covered entity of the breach. Notifications need to be made in accordance with the executed business associate agreement.

d. In instances of theft or break-in or other criminal activity, the contractor/subcontractor must concurrently report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement entity (or entities) of jurisdiction, including the VA OIG and Security and Law Enforcement. The contractor, its employees, and its subcontractors and their employees shall cooperate with VA and any law enforcement authority responsible for the investigation and prosecution of any possible criminal law violation(s) associated with any incident. The contractor/subcontractor shall cooperate with VA in any civil litigation to recover VA information, obtain monetary or other compensation from a third party for damages arising from any incident, or obtain injunctive relief against any third party arising from, or related to, the incident.

7. LIQUIDATED DAMAGES FOR DATA BREACH

a. Consistent with the requirements of 38 U.S.C. 5725, a contract may require access to sensitive personal information. If so, the contractor is liable to VA for liquidated damages in the event of a data breach or privacy incident involving any SPI the contractor/subcontractor processes or maintains under this contract.

b. The contractor/subcontractor shall provide notice to VA of a "security incident" as set forth in the Security Incident Investigation section above. Upon such notification, VA must secure from a non-Department entity or the VA Office of Inspector General an independent risk analysis of the data breach to determine the level of risk associated with the data breach for the potential misuse of any sensitive personal information involved in the data breach. The term 'data breach' means the loss, theft, or other unauthorized access, or any access other than that incidental to the scope of employment, to data containing sensitive personal information, in electronic or printed form, that results in the potential compromise of the confidentiality or integrity of the data. Contractor shall fully cooperate with the entity performing the risk analysis. Failure to cooperate may be deemed a material breach and grounds for contract termination.

c. Each risk analysis shall address all relevant information concerning the data breach, including the following:

(1) Nature of the event (loss, theft, unauthorized access);

(2) Description of the event, including:

(a) date of occurrence;

(b) data elements involved, including any PII, such as full name, social security number, date of birth, home address, account number, disability code;

(3) Number of individuals affected or potentially affected;

(4) Names of individuals or groups affected or potentially affected;

(5) Ease of logical data access to the lost, stolen or improperly accessed data in light of the degree of protection for the data, e.g., unencrypted, plain text;

(6) Amount of time the data has been out of VA control;

(7) The likelihood that the sensitive personal information will or has been compromised (made accessible to and usable by unauthorized persons);

(8) Known misuses of data containing sensitive personal information, if any;

(9) Assessment of the potential harm to the affected individuals;

(10) Data breach analysis as outlined in 6500.2 Handbook, Management of Security and Privacy Incidents, as appropriate; and





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