Multiple-award contracts grow strong as other vehicles fall

Government agencies are making less use of contracts awarded through full and open competition and more use of General Services Administration schedules, according to a study released today by Input Inc.

Spending on multiple-award schedule programs increased 24 percent from 1997 to 2002, representing 31 percent of total IT spending. Over the same five-year period, full and open competitions declined from 57 percent of all IT contracts in 1997 to 41 percent in 2002.

"At this rate of acceptance, we expect the level of spending within multiple-award schedules to approach that of full and open competitions within two years," said Erik TerHaar, manager of federal market development services at Input, a research firm.

Civilian agencies are more rapidly changing their procurement habits, the report said.

Between 2000 and 2002, these agencies used schedules for 32 percent of their IT purchases, while full and open competitions were held 38 percent of the time. Defense agencies were far more cautious in using schedules, spending just 18 percent of their IT expenditures on those vehicles.

The report attributed the difference in behavior to "the need for defense agencies to procure wartime machinery and equipment, which is not as easily pre-packaged and sold" as off-the-shelf products.

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