GSA getting out of the warehouse business

empty DC warehouse

Warehouses like this (now-vacant) one in southeast D.C. will no longer be part of GSA's distribution services, according to Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Tom Sharpe.

The General Services Administration's closing of the warehouse centers it has used to distribute supplies to government agencies won't affect IT goods or services, agency officials say, but the move does further illuminate the agency's more nimble approach to acquisition.

In a Jan. 30 blog post on the GSA website, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Tom Sharpe said the move is another step forward for his agency's new vision for acquisition under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI). The idea is for GSA's vendors to directly support customers, simplifying the acquisition process and saving as much as half a billion dollars over the next five years.

Sharpe said FAS is transitioning out of the warehouse business and will no longer buy, ship or store office supplies, tools and other common-use retail items. The agency will continue to accept customer orders, but will rely on its commercial partners to ship directly to customers and retail stores.

IT commodities and gear were never stocked by those distribution centers and GSA officials said Sharp's post does not apply specifically to IT "at this point."

FAS's wholesale supply business used warehouse distribution centers serving U.S. customers as well as customers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and around the Pacific Rim. GSA also managed several retail stores around the world that stocked inventory from those warehouses. Sharpe called the old model "costly, cumbersome and no longer the most efficient or effective approach to supporting our federal partners."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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