GSA is developing new SmartBuy models

GSA is developing new SmartBuy models

The General Services Administration will submit its plan to revamp the administration's enterprise software licensing initiative to the President's Management Council in December. The plan likely will include models for tiered pricing and comprehensive packages, said one of the GSA officials leading the program.

Neal Fox, assistant commissioner for GSA's Office of Commercial Acquisition, today said the project leaders are changing the philosophy and model to better meet the vendor and agency needs.

The Office of Management and Budget, which announced the initiative, known as SmartBuy, in the fiscal 2004 budget, had hoped to have deals with software vendors in place by Sept. 30. But recent pressure from Congress and resistance from contractors caused GSA to rethink its plan.

'The model [former OMB associate administrator for e-government and IT] Mark Forman wanted us to use where everyone gets one price was very restrictive and it did not have a lot of flexibility,' said Fox. He spoke about a handful of GSA initiatives at the Coalition for Government Procurement's fall conference in Arlington, Va. 'We are opening up the model to allow SmartBuy to be more successful. We will be able to put in place more contracts with this model than the other one.'

OMB will submit a new plan in December to the president's council to better explain how the program will work, Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, said earlier this month.

Fox said the tiered pricing model is based on premise that the more a vendor sells to agencies or across government, the lower the price would be for everyone. He said there are still some issues that need to be worked out with this model because a first sale usually is at a higher price than subsequent sales.

The other model would ask vendors to lower their costs when agencies buy a suite of software products at one time, he said.

'By using other models and targeting individual vendors, we are trying to align SmartBuy with vendor sales models,' Fox said. 'We think the vendor wants to sell this way and the agency customer wants to buy this way.'

Some in industry are cautiously optimistic about GSA's new tack.

Larry Allen, executive vice president for the Coalition, said GSA's new direction should appeal to more vendors by providing some value to them, but there are still many questions that need answers.

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