Governments 'piggyback' for IT savings
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Aug 25, 2000
Cities and counties could save up to $50 million on collective technology
purchases over the next two years through a program announced Thursday.
Through the nonprofit U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance
(GPA), a pool of local governments can buy computers and other high-tech
equipment in bulk discount directly from companies such as Dell Computer
Corp., IBM Corp., Gateway Inc., Micron Electronics Inc., Comark Corp., CompUSA,
Wareforce.com Inc. and Software Spectrum Inc.
Multiyear contracts were signed with the companies in April after a
competitive bidding process, officials said.
GPA is an umbrella organization created and administered by the National
Association of Counties (NACo), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and
the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. About 5,500 public jurisdictions
participate in GPA programs. There are no costs or fees to participate.
In the program announced this week, participating local governments
can "piggyback" onto a lead agency's agreement to purchase technology equipment.
For instance, when Fairfax County, Va., the lead agency in this program,
seeks bids on specific products, prices are discounted substantially based
on the expected volume. Any other local jurisdiction in the program can
take advantage of the lowered price.
USCM deputy executive director David Gatton said that there is "appropriate
oversight of vendors." A committee monitors the contracts, compares the
costs of products and services and ensures that the prices are competitive,
"We view this contract as a win-win," said David Forsythe, a vice president
and general manager with Dell's government business unit. Companies and
governments save on time as well as cost, he said, adding that regardless
of size, jurisdictions ranging from Taos, N.M. to the California Department
of Transportation will receive the same type of service.
According to NACo president Jane Hague, the program is expected to generate
$100 million in sales this year and more than $500 million over the next
GPA was formed in 1997 when it contracted with Office Depot to supply
office products. Since then, participating local governments, districts
and agencies have saved $50 million in office supply purchases over the
past three years, $35 million in 1999 alone.
Hague said future GPA programs will include furniture products and e-government
services, such as online payments, testimony, and election registration.