A show of support for strategic sourcing

Thomas Sharpe

GSA's Thomas Sharpe says the agency will develop and launch 10 new strategic sourcing solutions by next year. (File photo)

As the Federal Acquisition Services commissioner echoed his boss's enthusiasm for federal strategic sourcing initiatives, a bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers was busy preparing legislation aimed at widening the pricing practices at federal agencies.

In a July 15 blog post on the agency's website -- posted the same day General Services Administration head Dan Tangherlini testified before Congress on how strategic sourcing aids the federal government's bottom line -- FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe said GSA has committed to help develop and launch 10 new strategic sourcing solutions by the end of fiscal 2014. The agency currently has four current bulk-buying solutions that include wireless services, print management, express mail services and office supplies.

The Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, he said, not only saves money for the government, but also brings opportunities for business.

"With GSA's strategic sourcing initiative for office supplies, for example, 76 percent of the vendors are small businesses," he said. "Those small businesses have seen sales of more than $460 million since 2010, when this initiative kicked-off. Strategic Sourcing relies on principles that aim to meet socioeconomic and sustainability goals; in doing so, both the government and industry comes out ahead.

Strategic sourcing and its potential for federal savings has become something of a bipartisan battle cry on Capitol Hill in the last few days. While senators at the hearing had questions, they largely acknowledged that bulk-buying efforts have produced substantial savings for government agencies on certain types of purchases, and said the practices should more widespread and codified within the federal government.

A bipartisan group of 78 federal lawmakers called the No Labels caucus, scheduled a July 18 press conference on Capitol Hill where they planned to unveil a package of nine "common sense" bills aimed at making government more efficient, effective and less wasteful. Reportedly, a bill setting requirements for federal agencies to save between $10 billion and $100 billion in spending in fiscal 2014 and 2015 through strategic sourcing is included in the legislative package. The group is lead by former Republican Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

In his blog post, Sharpe said FSSI now includes more than 20 military and civilian agencies that have collaborated to develop government-wide common procurement vehicles that offer greater discounts, provide improved management, support small business participation, and represent best practices.

Sales from strategic sourcing contracts and blanket purchase agreements, he said, have translated into hundreds of millions of dollars for government agencies. He noted GSA's print panagement solution alone has helped save the Agriculture Department 15 percent on its printing costs, the National Transportation Safety Board 13 percent and the Alaska National Guard 36 percent.

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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