Government agencies do have one advantage over the private sector in this current environment, because government technology purchases must be compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, which limits the number of countries that can sell to federal agencies. Products must also be made, or substantially made, in the United States, eliminating some of the overseas shipping challenges faced by businesses that must import goods.
Still, the longer supply chain issues continue, the more impatient tech buyers may get — and they might be more apt to turn to refurbished IT or the gray market for their upgrades and refreshes, potentially endangering their physical infrastructure as well as their cybersecurity.
Caution Is the Watchword with Replacement Items
Refurbished equipment is not dangerous — as long as you’re buying it from the OEM or a trusted reseller that works directly with the OEM. The brand name alone means nothing outside the context of the product’s seller; the device could have been refurbished by folks that aren’t so trustworthy.
Gray market sales are more worrisome. There’s no way to know exactly where the product, device or component came from — just think of some of the items you might have purchased on a large online retail site that looked legitimate, then ended up bearing no resemblance to what you thought you were getting.
In the case of technology, gray market shopping means that you don’t know the country of origin, and you don’t know if the technology or its components have been tampered with. Often, if this technology is installed and problems arise, an agency may have to rebuild the entire process, putting a project even further behind. The gray market may be more of an issue for state and local governments, who aren’t subject to some of the strict procurement rules placed on federal agencies, but it’s still something to watch out for.
No matter what, we do our best to keep projects moving, communicating with the OEMs on what products are coming in and how quickly. However, the situation is so fluid that we might hear on a call that the item won’t be available until next year, and later that day hear something completely different via email. It’s frustrating for us as well as for you, and we’re anxious for better days ahead.
This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #FedIT hashtag.