Congressman sees SmartBuy 'dilemma'

The General Services Administration should enact its SmartBuy enterprise licensing initiative as soon as possible to begin reaping the possible savings, a House subcommittee chairman said this week.

"It has been brought to my attention that this process may be experiencing obstacles and impediments that are preventing the timely accomplishment of the stated goals and objectives of SmartBuy," reads a Thursday letter from Rep. Adam Putnam, (R-Fla.) to GSA Administrator Stephen Perry.

Putnam — chair of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee — praised the SmartBuy plan, in which agencies will band together to negotiate governmentwide licenses for common software products, using their combined buying power to negotiate lower prices. The congressman cited an Office of Management and Budget estimate of $100 million in annual savings through SmartBuy.

OMB originally predicted the first series of SmartBuy licenses would be negotiated by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Putnam said delays in implementing the program could cause problems for agencies, especially because OMB officials earlier this year urged agencies to refrain from entering new license agreements as much as possible while OMB and GSA put SmartBuy into practice.

"[It] appears that there may be a dilemma requiring your intervention," Putnam wrote. "The subcommittee is not aware of any meaningful progress being made to achieve SmartBuy's cost-savings goals for FY03, nor plans for additional near-term cost savings in early-FY2004."

Agencies and vendors are ready to move forward with SmartBuy negotiations, Putnam wrote, but might enter into more conventional, and more expensive, deals if GSA does not move forward with SmartBuy soon.

Putnam requested Perry to submit a review of the progress made toward implementing SmartBuy and any obstacles that need to be overcome.

GSA said it just received the letter today. "Mr. Perry will review it and respond in a timely manner," a spokeswoman said.


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