GAO Report: Telecom and Call Center Federal Contracts

In April 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Published a report which focused Telecommunications and Call Center federal contracts. The reason being that agencies spend billions on telecom and call center work every year. Majority of these services are provided by contractors, thus prompting the GAO to dig a bit deeper to highlight important key factors of this industry, such as amount spent and by whom, data security requirements, and even the use of foreign equipment.

As per the GAO report, The Federal Government obligated over $30 billion for telecommunications contracts and almost $4 billion for call center contracts, from fiscal years 2014 through 2018. On average for the 5-year period, telecommunications and call center obligations were a nominal portion of total federal spending—accounting for 1.2 percent and less than 0.2 percent, respectively. Defense agency obligations accounted for the majority of federal telecommunications spending to support a range of information capabilities across the full spectrum of military operations. The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for the majority of call center obligations to support customer inquiries about Medicare and the health insurance marketplace, among other services.

The GAO also found that many agencies are concerned with security as it pertains to call center and telecom work. Contractors must follow various requirements to protect the systems and the privacy of personal data, which includes implementing controls that limit or detect inappropriate access to data, and not using equipment from certain foreign manufacturers that could include harmful hardware or software and pose national security risks. In addition, most contracts also required that work be conducted in the United States or by U.S. citizens.

In our current global climate, cyber security is paramount. This means that agencies must take substantial precautions when hiring a contractor to perform government work. Watch for more strict requirements to be implemented in the future regarding personnel, equipment, cyber security, and even procedure.

Author: Paul McVeigh