Trade group sees stricter GSA

Companies that deal with government customers through the General Services Administration will find agency officials more likely to be sticklers for rules in coming months, according to an industry official who provided a report today to members of the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA).

The report came today as part of GEIA's annual Vision conference, at which the group's industry members discuss prospects in the federal market. Deirdre Murray, group manager of market development in Sprint's Government Systems Division, delivered the report about GSA.

The agency has been rocked by recent scandals involving misuse of an information technology fund and other violations of contracting rules. As a result, Murray said, agency officials have become far more alert for irregularities. A new program called Get It Right establishes a contract review process to back-check for compliance and takes other measures to prevent abuses.

"These are times of rapid and unprecedented changes at GSA," she said.

Agency officials continue to work on Networx and Alliant, two new procurement vehicles that will take over for expiring contracts, Murray added.

GEIA members expect government IT spending to grow an average of 3.6 percent a year from fiscal 2005 to fiscal 2010, according to the report.

Part of the reason that the expected growth is more modest than in past years is the ballooning federal deficit, said Mary Freeman, head of GEIA's budget forecast team and director of business development at Verizon Communications. The deficit makes agency officials cautious about their budget prospects in coming years.

"Agencies are starting to look at why they're buying," she said, and officials may reconsider expenditures that don't seem vital.

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