Bill would open Y2K sked to state, local agencies

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) last week introduced a bill that would permit state and local governments to buy hardware, software and support services from the General Services Administration schedule to address the Year 2000 problem.

A spokesman for Davis said the Year 2000 Compliance Assistance Act, H.R. 1599, would permit state and local governments to quickly obtain needed Year 2000 services and thus avoid the time-consuming traditional procurement process. "The goal is to give them the tools and resources they need to get the job done," he said. The buying authority would expire on Dec. 31, 2002.

Past attempts at cooperative purchasing were defeated, mostly because of the influence of non-IT industries opposed to widening access to the GSA schedule. Davis' spokesman said the urgent nature of the Year 2000 problem should make this attempt succeed.

However, Larry Allen, executive director of the industry group Coalition for Government Procurement, said he believes Davis has not been successful at convincing the traditional foes of cooperative purchasing to support the new bill. He said opponents already have begun efforts to defeat it. "His opponents feel this bill is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent," Allen said.

Edwin Rosado, legislative director at the National Association of Counties, said he was not familiar with the Davis bill but called it "a welcome effort."

"Being able to have counties buy Year 2000 services expands our opportunity to deal with Year 2000 issues," Rosado said. "I think demand for Year 2000 services will take you up to Dec. 31, 1999, and probably beyond."

John Kelly, chief information officer for Arizona, said he has no objections to the bill but doubts it will be useful in his state.

"For my particular state, it may not be used," Kelly said. "We have a blanket contract for Y2K services that was instituted a year ago. This would have been something better served about a year ago."

Davis' spokesman said Davis does not believe the bill comes too late to help states meet Year 2000 deadlines. He said many states' compliance efforts are behind schedule, and many will continue to need these products and services after Jan. 1, 2000.

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