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GSA takes a bite out of the Refurbished Market

Refurbished technology – when done well – can save IT departments a lot of money. The idea that non-handheld / end user gear “wears out” is fundamentally flawed. Maybe out-moded, sure, but wear and tear on datacenter kit is less pronounced that you’d believe.

That notwithstanding, due to an overwhelming drive by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in moving to the Cloud via its 2018 Cloud Computing Strategy, things like rentals and refurbished kit are now largely a thing of the past. In August, after a series of public comment periods, the General Service Administration (GSA) decided to end renting, and stop buying refurbished technology.

What prompted this move away from refurbs?

The GSA only described their rationale as “to mitigate supply chain vulnerabilities.”  While it is true that the refurbished technology market can have vulnerabilities, so can any market. We need only look at the Huawei scandal, going all the way back to their CEO’s address about the loss of AT&T support to begin to see the foreshadowing that led to an outright federal blacklisting.

After the Huawei incident, foreign election tampering, and political party hacking, it became clear that much of the technology in the political arena may be suspect (or at least targeted) for cyber attack. It comes as no surprise that in May of this year, the Trump Administration issued an executive order banning the GSA (and any government entity) from buying tech that could be used as sabotage…loosely translated, any refurbished gear.

Where does that leave the government contractor?

Fear not – when a window closes, a door opens. Many contractors who were contacted by the GSA after the executive order came out were understandably upset. After all, this measure was largely a preventative one – there are tons of GSA tech vendors who were impacted, and just about all of them had sterling records for NOT causing the downfall of the United States.

Keep in mind, this was an order issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Perhaps it was meant to stimulate growth for new tech. Perhaps it was meant to alleviate the “always getting the lowest price” requirements of the GSA, allowing mid-market refurb vendors the opportunity to put a little meat back on the bone. Is the ban in place forever? Maybe – but by forcing the issue, refurb vendors for government contracts and the private sector alike, including Computer Products Corporation, have been forced to try to figure things out.

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