GSA schedules might get state, local business

Cities and states soon might have more access to the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules contracts, if several new bills reach the president’s desk.

Last week, Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced legislation that would allow state and local governments to use stimulus money to buy from among the more than 11 million supplies and services available on the schedules contracts.

Towns’ bill, the Enhanced Oversight of State and Local Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 2182), pushes forward his notion that the schedules contracts should be open to more than federal agencies. In 2008, then-President George W. Bush signed Towns' Local Preparedness Acquisition Act, which gave states and cities access to law enforcement and security-related schedule contracts.

Similarly, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) introduced the Green Acquisition Act (H.R. 1766) on March 26. It would grant state and local governments access to the schedules contracts for environmentally preferable commodities and services. The bill was sent to Towns’ committee for consideration, and the legislation received a positive response, said Adam Sharon, a spokesman for Meek.

Meek introduced the bill after talking with several Miami-Dade County officials about the money they would save by buying green products from the federal schedules contracts.

“The ability to obtain green goods and services with this method will make our taxpayers’ dollars go a long way,” County Commissioner Sally Heyman said in April. She estimated that state and local governments would add $1 trillion in additional sales annually by opening GSA’s schedules.

Since 2002, state and local governments have been allowed to buy information technology products and disaster recovery products from GSA schedules using cooperative purchasing agreements.

Those agreements have boosted GSA’s sales on its IT Schedule specifically. Orders from states and localities jumped from $17.9 million in fiscal 2003 to $521.8 million in 2008, according to Input, a market research firm. And 2009’s orders are outpacing 2008, despite the economic downturn.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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