Acquisition

GSA rolls out commodity IT service

Shutterstock image (by Ismagilov): Two business persons reviewing a contract together.

The General Services Administration is looking to make buying high volume IT goods like computer monitors, hard drives and other everyday commodity goods easier and cheaper, mirroring some of the cut-rate pricing consumers run across at their local technology stores.

The Federal Acquisition Service's National IT Commodity Program (NITCP) demonstrated its new Advantage Select initiative during a virtual industry day on July 16, simultaneously unveiling the solicitation for the initial product to be offered through the feature.

According to GSA, the concept behind Advantage Select is for the agency to do the upfront work for its customers and award short-term blanket purchasing agreements (BPAs) that leverage existing contractor inventories while looking to tiered pricing discounts.

"Customers want to find a product and click and pay" for some commonly used items, without worrying about managing an extended competitive process, Kelly Clark, deputy director of NITCP, said during GSA's industry day teleconference. Advantage Select will provide a path to discounted pricing for those kinds of commodity products, while taking care of some of the purchasing paperwork and details that can accompany a more traditional BPA.

The program will likely evolve as GSA hears from customers.

"This is the start of the program. Hopefully we'll be able to offer a lot more products, if we get feedback," said Clark. "We're trying to gather data points of the products we should have and how it will work. We need industry feedback." Future products that might be covered could include laptops and printers, he added.

Commercial discounts are offered in retail outlets during heavy shopping periods, like Black Friday and Christmas. Advantage Select, said Clark, would mirror some of the commercial pricing discounts offered in those sales events.

The contracts offered through Advantage Select would go to a single provider and would be short term, measured in months, according to Senior Contracting Officer Melissa Mould.

During the virtual industry day, GSA offered an initial solicitation for 22-inch computer monitors to try out the idea. The initial contract from the monitor solicitation would expire in March 2016 and its value would top out at $2 million, she said.

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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