SmartBuy moves closer to a mandated program

Two acquisition councils are close to approving a draft proposal that would add the SmartBuy program to federal regulations, an official said today.

Ernest Woodson, a procurement analyst at the General Services Administration’s Office of Governmentwide Policy, said the Defense Acquisition Regulatory Council approved a draft rule last week that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to include SmartBuy. On Nov. 13, the council sent its version to the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council for further review.

“The councils are pretty much agreed, and we’re going to proceed,” Woodson said, adding that he expects changes to the proposed language. He said a final rule would likely come in February or March.

SmartBuy is a governmentwide program aimed at getting lower prices on software licenses and related services through bulk buying. The rule would make SmartBuy the mandated source of supply for agencies.

According to the draft proposal, agencies would be required to use the governmentwide enterprise software-licensing program or justify why they plan to use another contract for a purchase. Woodson said the program would save agencies money and make buying software easier by offering a range of agreements with companies.

“For the government to benefit, it is necessary for contracting officers to use these SmartBuy agreements,” the draft proposal states.

The five-year-old SmartBuy program has 29 agreements with 23 companies for software and services. Through those agreements, agencies saved $165.8 million in fiscal 2008, according to GSA, which hosts SmartBuy.

Agencies ordering through a SmartBuy agreement can force prices lower because of the government’s purchasing volume. In addition to the savings, the agreement would help standardize the products that agencies use, according to the draft language.

Under the rules, agencies would be required to check SmartBuy to see if any agreements match their needs. If an agency decides to use another contract, it would have to justify why it isn’t using SmartBuy and receive approval before proceeding, according to the draft. Contracting officers would have to tell their senior procurement executive and chief information officer why the SmartBuy agreements won’t work for a specific purchase. GSA officials would also receive the justification and use it to improve the agreements.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget didn’t comment on the proposed rule because it is still under review.

As they considered the SmartBuy proposal, acquisition regulators debated whether it is a mandatory program, Woodson said. Most of the SmartBuy agreements are through GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules program, and agencies are not required to use those contracts.

“We’re dealing with that, and that’s going to be resolved in the rule,” Woodson said. “It won’t be a problem, believe me.”

The councils have been considering adding SmartBuy to FAR since 2005, making it one of their oldest proposals. Woodson said other regulations — some with pressure from Congress and others with tight deadlines — have kept the SmartBuy effort from progressing.

About the Author

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

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.