For procurement, GSA is the best value, ITS chief says

Agencies that feel the need to establish their own large contracting vehicles should be required to demonstrate that they can do so at a cheaper price than the General Services Administration, a senior GSA official said.

John Johnson, assistant commissioner of the Integrated Technology Services division within GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said GSA offers more than enough contracting services to meet most agencies' needs.

'There are probably 5,800 contracts ' that we market,' Johnson said yesterday at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's annual Vision conference in Falls Church, Va. 'It is hard for me to believe that these channels don't have something to offer everyone.'

Johnson's comments echoed those frequently expressed by GSA administrator Lurita Doan and FAS commissioner Jim Williams. Doan, in fact, has been consistent since she came to the agency in saying that GSA should be the government's first stop for procurement, especially large multiple-award and governmentwide acquisition contracts, such as NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement.

Doan has asked the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to deny NASA's request to reauthorize SEWP as a governmentwide contract; and sources have said the administration is still mulling its options.

To that end, Johnson said there should be an interagency council that specifically focuses and analyzes GSA's schedules and GWAC programs to ensure that they are meeting their customers' needs.

Johnson said the issue is one of value. If more agencies are setting up MACs and GWACs, they are 'duplicating' what GSA is already going, he said. This results in an inefficient acquisition strategy and potentially could waste taxpayers' money, he said.

Agencies insistent on using their own vehicles should be required to demonstrate that they are, indeed, getting better value, Johnson said.

And if some agencies can get better prices, they should share that data with GSA so Johnson and others can make their offerings more attractive, he said. 'This would give us intelligence we can use to go back and renegotiate our contracts,' he said after his speech.

Robert Burton, OFPP associate administrator, shared some of Johnson's worries and said OFPP is studying the impacts of MAC proliferation.

Noting that most of the GWACs are under GSA control, single-agency multiple-award vehicles ' such as the Homeland Security Department's Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge contract ' are of greater concern because they don't go through the Office of Management and Budget for approval, Burton said.

'Some of those items are duplicative and there are a number of MACs floating out there that haven't gotten much publicity,' he said. 'These contracts are growing [in volume] and we're concerned about why that is.'

Burton said OFPP has surveyed agencies about their usage of multiple-award contracts and is continuing to analyze the data.

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