Cooperative purchasing interests industry

Most technology vendors look forward to using a new provision that lets state and local governments buy from the General Services Administration's schedule contracts.

The new procedures, enacted earlier this year, are limited to the information technology schedule. Vendors who have products on the schedule can choose which ones to make available to state and local governments.

In a recent survey, 85 percent of companies indicated interest in using the process, called cooperative purchasing. Marketing communications firm O'Keeffe & Co. Inc. surveyed about 100 companies, said Steve O'Keeffe, the firm's founder and principal.

About half the respondents plan to participate within the next six months and 85 percent within the next year, O'Keeffe said.

GSA officials said interest in the program has been growing rapidly since word began to spread in May. Vendors made about $5 million in sales using cooperative purchasing in the first few months of the program, said Gary Feit, assistant commissioner of the Office Of Marketing in GSA's Federal Supply Service.

"We are encouraged by early results," he said.

Industry bears the brunt of the responsibility to support cooperative purchasing by marketing to state and local governments, O'Keeffe said. "This is an interesting time because this notion of two silo-based markets — [one] federal and [one] state and local — is dissolving," he said.

More requirements cut across levels of government and more programs are interconnected now, he said.

"We're going to be putting together marketing programs to support cooperative purchasing, to help raise awareness within the states," O'Keeffe said. "It's [about] educating, acclimatizing and making state and local government aware of this. Change is disruptive, so it's not going to be an overnight thing."

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