GSA shops for wireless services under strategic sourcing initiative

GSA has launched a strategic sourcing procurement, under which agencies can consolidate their requirements to provide higher volume orders, which in turn allows GSA to negotiate lower prices.

The General Services Administration has taken initial steps toward launching a governmentwide procurement for wireless technology. Last week, the agency issued a request for information intended to raise vendors’ awareness and solicit their comments and feedback.

In the RFI, the agency clarified that it is not currently conducting a procurement or guaranteeing that it will. However, if it does, the program could last as long as five years — starting with a one-year base period — and would include cellular devices, services and related management of program requirements, according to a draft statement of objectives.

Potential devices include personal digital assistants, Research in Motion BlackBerries and cellular network cards. GSA is also looking for broadband, cellular and Wi-Fi services.

The acquisition is part of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, which the Office of Management and Budget launched last year to develop acquisitions across agency boundaries.

GSA hired Censeo Consulting Group to help with the initiative, including the wireless program. Censeo has been involved in a similar effort with the Defense Department for more than a year and helped develop blanket purchase agreements with vendors for the Army and Air Force that could save the military millions of dollars a year, said Raj Sharma, Censeo’s chief executive officer.

He declined to comment on the GSA project, saying it is in a procurement-sensitive phase. The GSA team that manages the wireless initiative includes representatives from at least 10 agencies, all of which have agreed through a formal project charter to participate in a trial program in some capacity, according to the draft statement.

Before drafting the statement of objectives, the wireless team gathered historical data from agencies on wireless purchases. The analysis showed that inaccurate wireless inventories, incorrect billing and a multitude of service plans are causing problems for agencies.

The strategic sourcing effort is important because if GSA doesn’t move quickly to provide a better option, agencies will continue to buy wireless services piecemeal, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting.

GSA released the RFI on the same day it began its Networx Transition Summit, which had some vendors doing a double take.

It “came as a bit of a surprise to us since Networx includes wireless service,” said Tony D’Agata, vice president and general manager of Sprint’s Government Services Division. “However, we are reviewing the draft statement of objectives, and we would expect to actively participate in the initiative if it moves forward.”

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