Next up for strategic sourcing: IT services

As part of its next strategic-sourcing initiative, the Office of Management and Budget is looking to help agencies get better deals on basic information technology services, such as help-desk support, Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said Wednesday.

Officials want to create a consistent cost structure for the services, unlike the current situation in which contracting officers and program managers are paying different amounts of money for the same services, Denett said in a speech at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association conference.

Strategic sourcing involves analyzing current spending data to identify opportunities to consolidate the purchase of commodity products and services, which should lower pricing and improve the efficiency of the contracting process.

Denett said there are dozens of contracts governmentwide from which agencies can buy IT services, with prices varying from contract to contract.

Often contracting officers and managers are buying the services without having a clear idea of whether they are getting the best available price. "The definitions and categories are all over the map right now, and it’s when you jump from one to the next, if you’re not on your toes, you’ll make mistakes,” Denett told reporters after his speech.

The coming initiative includes a wide range of services, including IT support, help-desk and seat management.

The Chief Information Officers Council presented the idea and decided to go ahead with the initiative, Denett said. He said he believes strategic sourcing is a wealthy area with a lot of gems the departments should mine.

Last year, Air Force Lt. Gen Charles Croom, director of the Defense Department's Defense Information Systems Agency, spoke about buying IT services strategically, too. He said the agency would start to buy everything from data center computing capacity and storage to command-and-control applications as utility-like services.

OMB also has used strategic sourcing in other areas. It buys office supplies and delivery services, such as FedEx, through strategic sourcing. The agency is working on creating an initiative for strategically buying wireless handheld devices, such as BlackBerries.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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