Despite GSA's buying power, some agencies go their own way

With the General Services Administration urging agencies to sign up with its Managed Services Office, and as the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 deadline nears, a handful of agencies are going it alone.

The State and Defense departments are well on their way to meeting the deadline, as both agencies have prior experience with smart identification cards.

Others, including the Interior Department's National Business Center, are looking to become another shared-services provider, while the Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department and the Government Printing Office have all taken steps to meet aspects of the Oct. 27 deadline on their own.

In fact, GPO was planning to issue a formal solicitation for a contractor to help build and maintain a repository for developing and producing ID cards before the end of August, said Ben Brink, GPO assistant public printer for security and intelligent documents.

'We don't intend to go it alone and be an impediment' to the GSA approach, Brink said, adding that he is in constant communication with the agency. 'GSA is running the show.'

EPA, meanwhile, issued its own solicitation for 30,000 smart cards earlier this month.

Under its proposal, the agency is looking to sign a firm, fixed-price contract with a vendor encompassing the full set of badge lifecycle activities and enhancing EPA's physical and logistical security. EPA officials could not be reached at press time.

Chris Niedermayer, chairman of the Office of Management and Budget's HSPD-12 Executive Steering Committee, said that while agencies are able to move on this deadline alone, they should consider signing up with GSA's product offerings to reduce costs for the government and taxpayers.
This is especially true because each of the products purchased must meet the same federal standards, he said.

'You have to question what sense it makes' to have multiple agencies seeking the same tools and products on their own, he said. 'How are you going to justify that at the end of the day?'

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