Purchasing

The nuts and bolts of GSA's new mobile purchasing agreement

Mary Davie, GSA

GSA's Mary Davie explains the details of the new wireless services purchasing agreement.

The General Services Administration on May 22 spelled out some of the nitty-gritty details of its new wireless services purchasing agreement with the four big U.S. wireless carriers.

According to Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), the three basic services packages available from AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon are split into voice-only, data add-on, and data-only. All three packages are metered, with pooled minutes for voice and data-only. Voice-only users can choose from 100, 400 and 900 minute plans, while data add-on and data-only users can select from 50 MB, 500 MB and 5 GB buckets.

In a May 22 post on GSA's "Great Government Through Technology" blog, Davie further explained the basics of how the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) work. Under the BPA, Davie wrote, carriers will include wireless devices at no cost along with service plans, and users can choose among devices in each plan. Devices are refreshed every 20 months at no cost.

Device makes and models, she said, were chosen by each wireless carrier to offer in their service plans, but carriers don't have to modify the BPA to add devices. That capability allows them to offer new devices more quickly and easily, although, Davie said the latest models may not be available right away.

Additionally, users can buy service plans for government-furnished equipment (GFE) and user-owned devices, she said.

The FSSI Wireless BPA provides pooling in conjunction with rate optimization, said Davie, providing agencies with a powerful tool to pool voice minutes and data megabytes to reduce overages and costs.

GSA plans to post tools on its web site to help users select plans to fit their needs. Among those tools is an economic model to help estimate costs and planned savings, as well as a user's guide aimed at helping users order and transition templates to help users move from their current plans to new ones.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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