Dec 1, 2022 - News

Colorado state and local governments buying banned Chinese tech

State and local government transactions involving Chinese tech
Data: Center for Security and Emerging Technology; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios Visuals

Efforts to block Chinese telecom equipment from U.S. supply chains are proving difficult as state and local governments in Colorado and elsewhere, continue to buy products designated a threat to national security, a new report finds.

Driving the news: State and local governments must better align themselves with U.S. policies to keep Chinese gear out of schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure nationwide, according to Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

  • The wide-ranging list of banned products includes smartphones, surveillance cameras and networking equipment, according to the report, which is based on procurement records scraped from public documents.

By the numbers: Between 2015 and 2021, Colorado's state and local governments spent $202,000 on Chinese technology across 31 transactions. The details on the purchases are unclear.

Why it matters: U.S. officials warn Chinese telecom equipment could make the U.S. vulnerable to economic espionage or digital sabotage.

  • Federal agencies have been banned since 2018 from procuring products from Chinese tech companies Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Dahua and Hytera.

Yes, but: Federal-level bans don't apply to state agencies and only five states — Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Vermont — have enacted measures to limit procurement of such equipment on national security grounds.

What they're saying: The governor's Office of Information Technology says it prohibits its contractors from using goods or services from federally banned companies.

  • But spokesperson Brandi Wildfang Simmons says, "OIT only represents a portion of Colorado's state government and does not have a role in the purchasing actions of local communities."
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