GSA refocuses SmartBuy

Now that the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service is handling the daily operations of the SmartBuy governmentwide licensing program, SmartBuy is ready to come out swinging, according to

analysts.

At the beginning of the month, FTS took over the enterprise licensing program's operational side, while GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) and the Office of Management and Budget will continue to set policy.

GSA officials signed two enterprise licenses, with ESRI and with Manugistics Group Inc., while OGP ran the program. Hope Lane, director of GSA schedule services at Aronson and Co., likened those first deals to beta tests.

"FTS is a marketing-focused operation," she said. "They know the players because they've been servicing those clients already."

OGP officials set the standards, rules and objectives for the SmartBuy program, said Kristin Buczek, president of Sharp Minds Inc. "FTS is definitely in a much better position to feel the pulse of agencies' software requirements."

Although OGP employees are experts at what they do, "they are truly a policy organization," said consultant John Ortego, founder of Ortego and Associates. "FTS has its whole contracting arm. You havepeople who are very much accustomed to doing this kind of contracting support."

Bob Suda, assistant commissioner for information technology solutions at FTS, said his organization will work with GSA's Federal Supply Service to lead discussions with vendors.

"There are two models that have been used," he said. "We'll be looking for others. Each one will be unique. There's no cookie-cutter approach for this."

Agencies must compile and submit lists of their IT expenditures and needs to OMB by April 15, Suda said. That information will guide SmartBuy's leaders in determining what types of software to consider licensing next.

"Our goal is to move as fast as possible," he said.

FTS has two employees working full-time on the SmartBuy program, he said. Tom Kirelis serves as program specialist, and Karen Barnhardt is the program's contracting officer.

Ortego suggested that Congress should designate funds for software purchases

that agencies could use as needed. Making the money available from the beginning

of a contract would be a great draw for vendors.

"FTS is poised to make a big splash doing something right, because they've had so much trouble this past year," Lane said. "They'll be on their best behavior to make it happen."

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