Services also grow

Input's survey considered only sales of information technology products. But services are also being procured through General Services Administration schedules more often than before.

The Federal Procurement Data Center shows that agencies bought about $5 billion in IT services via the schedules in 2000 and almost $9 billion in 2003, said Hope Lane, director of GSA schedule services at consulting firm Aronson and Co.

The overall growth is about 20 percent a year, she said.

"Buying services is different from buying products, but the GSA schedule has made it as close to being the same as it can be," Lane said.

Agencies in general are becoming more willing to experiment with the procurement system. "They're not just placing orders," she said. "They're incorporating [the schedules] into their overall procurement strategies and putting a lot of their own procurement twists into it. They're exercising a lot more creativity."

Services got another boost earlier this year when GSA's other side, the Federal Technology Service, began adding eight professional services contract vehicles to those it offers for assisted procurement services, said Neal Fox, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Acquisition.

Those services, including professional engineering and logistics, are selling briskly through the schedules, Fox said. "Our non-IT services are growing anywhere from 30 [percent] to 70 percent a year right now. It's phenomenal," he said. "Even IT services are growing rapidly."

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