Group to study sourcing

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy are forming a working group to study strategic sourcing.

The group will have its first meeting on Aug. 27. Rob Burton, associate administrator at OFPP, announced the new organization this morning at itsGov, an event sponsored by FCW Media Group.

The group will look for ways to harness the government's buying power, including negotiating discounts from retailers for use of government purchase cards, Burton said. Government employees can use the cards similar to credit cards for official purchases of small items, but often pay full retail price for the merchandise.

"I think we need to be negotiating more with industry," he said. He told the audience that when he asked officials from one retailer why government buyers didn't get a discount, the response was, "You never asked."

Burton said there is no good reason for the lack of a negotiated discount. "I think it's just a lack of interest," he said. "I also think there's been an assumption that we were getting discounts."

The working group will not limit itself to purchase cards, he added, but will consider all kinds of federal purchasing.

The goal will be to produce real results, he said. "We're looking for more than best practices," he said.

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