Cooperative purchasing still not in effect

Proposed cooperative purchasing rules

The General Services Administration has not yet published rules that would allow state governments to use federal schedules for information technology purchases. A proposed rule was published in January and the comment period ended in March.

GSA expects to publish an interim rule shortly, but does not have a specific date set, a spokeswoman said.

The proposal has been beset with difficulties since it was submitted. State governments objected to provisions that would forbid them from modifying schedule contracts, even if their state laws require them to include specific clauses.

"A lot of the states are having a problem with not being able to add terms and conditions," said Hope Lane, director of GSA schedule services at Aronson and Co., a consulting firm in Rockville, Md. "GSA is recognizing that; they're just not sure how to handle it."

Extending the schedule system to the states is a priority for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee. David Marin, Davis' communications and policy director, said the difficulties that GSA is encountering in developing the rules do not mean the effort is at risk of failing.

"Figuring out how to accommodate state and local acquisition laws with the federal provisions that govern the schedule is, admittedly, not a simple exercise," Marin wrote in an e-mail message. "But we're not concerned, no. Davis continues to think it's critical to give state and local governments access to the schedules. He's provided GSA with the authority to make the vehicle available, if state and locals want to use it and if schedule holders want to participate. Now it's up to...these players to work it out."

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