Acquisition

IT hallway to launch in the fall

Thomas Sharpe

Thomas Sharpe, commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service

The General Services Administration is looking to roll out by autumn an acquisition "hallway" concept for acquisition of IT gear and other goods that entails developing a team of experts offering guidance and best practices with the aim of ensuring pricing transparency and common standards.

In a report posted on the Office of Management and Budget's Performance.gov site, GSA said it would implement an IT category management "hallway" under its Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI).

The report said the hallway concept would bring together all the dollars spent in similar commodity areas, such as IT, under stronger management. There are hallways planned for other acquisition areas as well, offering centralized management and standards for categories of federal acquisition, although "many agencies will continue to award their own contracts," the report said.

Although GSA officials had indicated they would create new strategic acquisition strategies and concepts under FSSI and category management practices in the last few months, they hadn't elaborated on a timeline.

In an April 9 blog post, Thomas Sharpe, commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said the agency was using its experience with FSSI to implement category management practices similar to those used in the private sector. The plan, he said, includes providing technical expertise and targeted purchasing information to agency customers.

Sharpe said that among the first concepts GSA would adopt under category management practices would be category hallways available under the agency's common acquisition platform (CAP).

CAP, according to Sharpe, is a technology platform and strategy that will help deliver the benefits of category management and guide buyers through every step of the acquisition process.

After entering through the digital CAP gateway, users will be able to choose a category, or search for the product or service they need. From there, Sharpe said, they will be able to virtually “walk” down a hallway that houses everything from subject expertise and data to tools and on-demand procurement assistance.

"The hallways will house both advice and acquisition sources that government-wide category managers have determined would help professionals make better buying decisions," he said.

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, 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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Reader comments

Wed, Jul 9, 2014 Prof. Samuel D. Bornstein

Suggestion.... Before GSA moves forward with the IT Hallway, GSA should consider doing a COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS of the FSSI Program to answer the question, FSSI, IS IT WORTH IT? SBA sees the need for a Cost-Benefit Analaysis and has called for this Analysis with emphasis on the Economic & Social Costs of Job Loss. The FSSI program effectively forces small businesses to charge the lowest price, in order to be awarded one of the select few FSSI BPAs. In many cases, their profit margins are reduced to levels which put them on the verge of business failure. The smaller businesses cannot compete with their larger competitors and are often forced to lay-off their employees or close their doors. GSA must avoid DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

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