Fairfax signs new GTSI contract

Fairfax County, Va., has renewed its purchasing contract with technology vendor GTSI for another two years, through April 2008. The deal is a big win for the locally based provider of hardware and software, which responded successfully to the county’s initial request for proposals in 2003.

Fairfax, a large suburban county outside Washington, D.C., is the lead technology purchaser for U.S. Communities, a nationwide commodities purchasing program for 8,000 state and local government agencies and public-benefit nonprofit organizations. All members — large or small — receive the same discounted rates when they purchase through the program.

“That’s where the benefits for the smaller jurisdictions come in,” said Cathy Muse, Fairfax County’s director of purchasing. “They’re able to pool their requirements with the largest jurisdictions in the country to establish a pricing structure that is favorable to those small jurisdictions that alone would not be able to realize that kind of pricing structure.”

Muse said Fairfax spent about $5.6 million under the GTSI contract for technology purchases last year, which included everything from hardware accessories, desktop speakers, and desktop and laptop PCs to highly complex IT-based security solutions.

Steve Hammond, director of GTSI’s state and local practice, said the company’s contractual commitment ensures that members get the best prices, because they’re using national buying power led by some of the largest jurisdictions in the country.

When League City, Texas, a community of 50,000 residents between Houston and Galveston, wanted a citywide surveillance system in 2004, the town used

a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and its U.S. Communities membership to buy 22 cameras to monitor its critical facilities, said Yvonne Calderon, administrative assistant in League City’s Office of Emergency Management.

She said the Web-based monitoring system will be especially useful when the town’s police force moves to a wireless Internet system.

John Henderson, purchasing manager for Sandy Springs, Ga., recently bought Panasonic Toughbook laptops for the town’s police vehicles from GTSI through U.S. Communities. “That was at very substantial savings,” he said.

Henderson estimates the initial three-year contract, which just expired, was worth about $90 million to GTSI, based in Chantilly, Va.

“From ’04 to ’05, we had just a hair under 100 percent year-over-year growth. This year, we’re projecting about $75 million in sales from the program, just in technology,” he said.

Purchasing powerThe following organizations founded the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance a decade ago:

  • Association of School Business Officials International.

  • National Association of Counties.

  • National Institute of Governmental Purchasing.

  • National League of Cities.

  • United States Conference of Mayors.
  • Source: U.S. Communities

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