Government IT buyers keen on GSA schedules

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Government IT buyers think General Services Administration schedules are pretty cool.

'There's the simplicity of not having to do new contracts,' said an Army program manager in Alexandria, Va.

'It makes it easier because the price scales and comparisons have already been done,' said a Navy IT specialist at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

'It saves resources when you don't have to do a full open bid,' said a Justice Department IT specialist in Washington.

'It provides more options for purchasing,' added an Army Research Laboratory acquisitions coordinator in Beltsville, Md.

A wide majority of IT and acquisition managers in the survey, 79 percent, reported that they use GSA schedule contracts to buy hardware and software.

Overall, using GSA schedules makes the procurement process much faster, said a Mint contract specialist in Washington.

What's more, nearly half of the survey participants, 45 percent, said their agencies are expanding use of GSA schedule contracts and other multiple-award contracts.

Many respondents, 44 percent, expected their agencies to increase IT spending in the next year; 35 percent anticipated that spending would stay level.

Few agency managers in the survey had used GSA's SmartBuy for enterprisewide software, but those who had'17 percent'liked it.

'They have centralized the [software] procurement process,' said a National In-stitutes of Health IT specialist in Bethesda, Md.

Most purchasing decisions are made at the top levels of agency management, the survey found.

Among managers GCN talked with, 47 percent said buying decisions at their agencies are made at the bureau level while 42 percent reported that they are made at the department level.

Among participants who offered comments on how the federal procurement process could be improved, many wanted to see a more streamlined approach with fewer bureaucratic layers and less red tape.

'There are too many approvals needed and too many people to go through,' said an Agriculture Department IT specialist in Philadelphia. 'If that process could be streamlined, it would make things better.'

'The process would be less difficult if there weren't so many management levels to go through,' said the contract specialist at the Mint.

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