IT continues to surge

The General Services Administration opened its information technology schedule to services in 1996. Now, seven years later, services represent more than half of GSA Schedule 70 sales, and the trend shows no sign of abating. In fact, Federal Sources Inc. projects that professional services will generate $10.1 billion in schedule business for fiscal 2004, while products and other IT sales will contribute $6.7 billion.

James Kane, FSI's president and chief executive officer, cites booming service sales as "strong, prima facie evidence of strong buying preferences for solutions as opposed to stand-alone commodities." He said agencies are tapping the schedule for architecture studies and requirements analyses. For customers, the schedule is a "quick way to have someone...think through a problem," he added.

The services boom has not been lost on other contract-sponsoring agencies. The National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, for example, added a services component to the latest iteration of its Electronic Commodity Store series of contracts. ECS III was awarded late last year.

For its part, GSA is still innovating when it comes to services, according to Neal Fox, assistant commissioner of the Office of Commercial Acquisition at GSA. He points to GSA's e-Buy request-for-quotes tool as an example. The eBuy system enables agencies to obtain quotes from vendors and order services — or products. GSA has been promoting the e-Buy tool in recent months.

Furthermore, other schedules are being increasingly used for IT-related areas, said Kathy Conrad, a vice president of Jefferson Consulting Group LLC. She points to GSA's Management, Organizational and Business Improvement Services program. MOBIS is not ostensibly an IT services vehicle, but "a lot of the strategic planning or IT planning being done for agencies in advance, and in support, of a large procurement is being done under MOBIS," Conrad said.

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