FSS, Fedcac go head-to-head with leasing contracts

Sources at the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service said last week a program announced this month by another GSA component will compete with computer leasing schedule contracts they plan to award as early as next month.

FSS sources said officials within their organization were unhappy about plans by GSA's Federal Computer Acquisition Center (Fedcac) an office within the agency's Federal Telecommunications Service to kick off a new program that will offer users desktop equipment and software along with management services such as software maintenance connectivity training help desk and configuration.

John Ortego acting director of Fedcac said vendors who win these contracts would provide the entire range of desktop services freeing agencies from the obligations of purchasing and installing the equipment. "We believe industry is far better at acquiring and maintaining assets than government is " he said.

Desktop Services vs. Equipment

Ortego emphasized that his program will focus on offering customers desktop services as opposed to simply leasing equipment. He refused to comment on any specific objections raised by FSS.

"I believe that what we are trying to do is different from Federal Supply " he said. "We will work out any problems that may be there."

William Gormley director of acquisition at FSS also refused to comment on the Fedcac program. But he said his organization will continue to work toward what he called "asset management" contracts. "We are starting to get real good indications from industry that as early as next month we will have contracts in place " Gormley said.

But other FSS sources said top officials within the organization called FTS officials to inquire about the Fedcac program and continue to believe it covers the same ground as the leasing schedules. "Our people are pretty upset about it " the source said.

The disagreement is at least the second turf squabble between the two GSA units. Last year FTS officials reacted negatively when Gormley announced he would offer telecommunications services through the schedule program.

Bob Guerra president of Robert J. Guerra and Associates said he believes there is a difference between leasing and the type of program planned by Fedcac. "I think people are overstating what leasing is " he said. "Leasing is a payment option and [the Fedcac program] is a complete solution alternative."

Guerra believes the Fedcac program will be beneficial to agencies such as the Census Bureau which need only a temporary boost in computing power during projects such as the decennial census.

Ortego said his office will issue in April a "sources sought" notice to industry with the intention of awarding contracts in place within a year. He said Fedcac will award multiple contracts at least one of which he expects to serve as a small-business set-aside. Vendors will be judged on a proven ability to manage assets and deliver service and each contract will probably have a life span of eight years he said.

Guerra said he believes both programs could dramatically change the way the government acquires computers. "I think it was J. Paul Getty who said `If it appreciates buy it and if it depreciates lease it ' " he said. "Does anyone think PCs appreciate in value?

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