GWACs: Too much of a good thing?

Governmentwide acquisition contracts have made their mark.

Agency buyers and contractors alike have lauded some GWAC vehicles as models of efficiency. Such programs frequently are described as quick and easy to use. The perceived user benefit has translated into burgeoning sales.

Orders through GWACs and agency-specific indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity task order contracts have surged, according to Howard Stern, senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc. He said new actions on contracts greater than $5 million grew to 56 percent of the federal information technology contracting pie in 2002, up from 32 percent in 2000.

Agencies have launched more than a dozen GWACs in

recent years. But the proliferation is not necessarily good, according to Robert Williams, co-president of A&T Systems Inc., a solutions provider with GWAC experience.

Some GWACs — such as NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement and the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Commodity Store III — are clearly focused, but others "are a bit muddy" and perhaps redundant, according to Williams.

"I would even question the necessity of so many, even if they are not overlapped in terms of scope," Williams said. "There just seem to be entirely too many shops out there doing the same things."

Yet the GWAC field has narrowed — slightly. The Transportation Department earlier this year folded the Transportation Administration Service Center, a fee-based operation that managed the Information Technology Omnibus Procurement contract.

But ITOP, at one time considered a pioneering GWAC, is no longer a governmentwide contract, and DOT has not sought to extend the Office of Management and Budget's executive agent designation.

Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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