GSA tries to hook Oracle for SmartBuy

The General Services Administration is close to striking a deal with a large database software vendor for its SmartBuy enterprise licensing program. Sources outside GSA said the vendor is Oracle Corp.

The SmartBuy program office would not reveal the name of the company it is talking to, but a GSA official said the agency is entering serious negotiations with a database company and hopes to have an initial deal in place by November.

"This is the big one we have been hoping for," said the official, who requested anonymity.

Michael Sperling, an Oracle spokesman, said the company is looking at SmartBuy. "We're talking to GSA and supportive of its efforts, but we're still early in the process," he said.

A potential sticking point for GSA and vendors is determining what a SmartBuy deal will cover, the GSA official said. Many large vendors don't want to negotiate software maintenance fees, which are the source of most of their profits.

To help iron out the details, GSA will set up a meeting between the vendor and agency chief information officers and senior procurement executives, the GSA official said.

"It is one thing for the vendor to tell us what is on the table to negotiate, but it is another to tell their customer," the official said.

While the negotiations continue, agencies may request a waiver from the SmartBuy requirements should they have an immediate need to renew Oracle software licenses.

GSA earlier this month detailed the waiver process: Agencies should request a waiver after the SmartBuy program office notifies them that a contract award is imminent, or if they are renewing enterprise deals with ESRI of Redlands, Calif., Manugistics Inc. of Rockville, Md., or Novell Inc. of Orem, Utah.

As of Aug. 11, GSA has granted 14 waivers, said Mary Mitchell, deputy associate administrator of GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

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