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National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 889

In August 2020, the federal government began to implement a new requirement in contract and grants – Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 (FY2019). Some of you may have heard this new rule referred to as “NDAA 889”, “Section 889”, or the “Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services and Equipment.” Additional information on the rule and the University’s response is available on the Office of Sponsored Research’s Science and Security page. The purpose of this communication is to highlight one part of the rule that has caused delays in the issuance of some University contract actions (new and amendments/modifications) and to ensure the research community that the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research in partnership with the Central Compliance Office and Office of Federal Affairs are working diligently and in coordination with federals sponsors and federal and state, representatives to reduce the impact to our research program.

One aspect of NDAA 889 is that it restricts the federal government from contracting with any entity that uses telecommunications and video surveillance equipment or services from five companies, all Chinese based, as well as their subsidiaries and affiliates. Such prohibited equipment or services are thought by the government to present privacy and security risks and they seek to avoid unauthorized access or removal of sensitive data from contractor systems arising from contractors’ use of such equipment or services.

To continue to receive federal contracts, the University must certify to the government whether it uses telecommunications or video surveillance equipment or services produced or provided by any of the companies. The University has identified a limited number of uses, focused primarily at our international locations, but not entirely. Those uses were disclosed to federal contracting agencies, along with a plan to replace covered equipment, where possible, and a request for a waiver of the restrictions where alternatives are not available.

Researchers whose contracts have been affected to date by the NDAA 889 requirements have received direct outreach from the Office of Sponsored Research. If you believe your contract has, or may have, been affected and have not been contacted by OSR or you anticipate submitting a federal contract in the near term, please reach out to the Office of Sponsored Research contact listed below.

While NDAA 889 affects grants also, the language for grants focuses solely on a probation of using grant funds to 1) purchase or obtain, 2) extend or renew a contract to purchase or obtain, 3) enter into a contract or renew a contract to purchase systems or services that use covered telecommunications and video surveillance equipment and services. As such, the impact to UNC grants is minimal.

Please review additional information regarding NDAA 889 here.

Brian Collier
Assistant Director, Research Administration
Office of Sponsored Research
Judy Faubert
Chief Compliance Officer and Associate University Counsel
Institutional Integrity and Risk Management and University Counsel
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