Sales booming, GSA regroups

The General Services Administration is reorganizing its IT Acquisition Center to cope with the growing popularity of the Federal Supply Service's schedule contracts.

Early next year GSA will add more-experienced contracting officers and simplify processes, said Neal Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition.

Agencies spent record amounts on schedule contracts in fiscal 2003. Agencies bought more than $27.4 billion worth of products and services through schedule contracts, a $6.3 billion increase over fiscal 2002.

The IT services contracts are the biggest draw, Fox said. Agencies spent $15 billion on IT products and services last year, up from $13 billion in 2002. The next most popular, engineering services, garnered $2.2 billion in sales.

'The rapid growth in sales of IT products and services has required new thinking about how we organize to keep pace,' Fox said. 'The IT Center is receiving an average of eight to 10 new vendor offers per work-day, nearly double what we saw a year ago.'

GSA is transferring experienced contracting officers to the center as well as hiring new staff. The office also will put a team approach in place to improve efficiency, Fox said. Groups of employees will collaborate on projects instead of each employee working separately, he said.

Early next year, GSA will reform how schedule contract modifications are made. The goal? Reduce the number of required changes by 80 percent, Fox said.

'Vendors will be able to place new products on GSA Advantage without a modification and begin selling to agencies that same day,' he said. 'That will eliminate the lag time between commercial marketplace product availability and GSA schedule availability.'

On average, it now takes two weeks to complete a contract modification.

GSA next year also plans to revamp GSA Advantage, the agency's procurement Web site, to let vendors make modifications and submit offers online.

The agency will test all changes at the IT Center first before expanding them agencywide, Fox said.

GSA also wants to improve the search function on GSA Advantage. With 5 million items, the system's searches are slow and yield results that are too broad, he said.

Lastly, GSA will invest $2 million in training. In doubling its training budget, GSA will be able to help agencies and vendors make better use of the schedules and the agency's electronic services, Fox said.

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