Strategic sourcing saves, but not enough

room of computers

Although federal strategic sourcing initiatives have saved agencies almost $500 million in the past four years, the Government Accountability Office said the millions could become billions if the initiatives were more widely used.

GAO assessed savings from fiscal 2011 to 2015 for FSSI programs, which cover a wide range of products and services, including office supplies and IT hardware and software.

In a report issued on Oct. 26, auditors said agencies spent almost $2 billion and saved $470 million during that period using the General Services Administration's wireless blanket purchase agreement and other FSSI programs.

Nevertheless, GAO said the relatively low use of FSSIs diminished the potential savings. Auditors blamed the lack of accountability built into the programs by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

"As the Office of Management and Budget implements smarter buying for big-ticket items like IT, it should hold agencies accountable for actually using the initiatives," the report states.

GAO also criticized the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC), the team of large federal agencies responsible for FSSI governance, because those agencies directed only 10 percent of their collective spending to FSSIs.

The auditors recommended that OFPP revise its category management guidance to include a process that sets target and performance measures for each SSLC agency's adoption of proposed FSSIs and category management solutions and ensure that those targets and measures are met.

They also recommended that GSA's FSSI program management office determine whether the Wireless FSSI should modify contract terms to more widely share prices-paid data with other federal agencies.

Agencies must develop plans for moving from existing contracts to FSSIs, but GSA and OFPP do not keep track of those activities, according to auditors.

"Ensuring agencies submit these plans and monitoring them is consistent with internal control standards to evaluate and hold agencies accountable for performance," the report states.

GAO also recommended that OFPP ensure agencies submit those transition plans, monitor their use, and make sure they meet targets and performance metrics to better measure the adoption of FSSI solutions.

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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