IT providers embrace cooperative purchasing, survey says

Information technology solutions providers and state and local governments have shown strong interest in the General Services Administration's Cooperative Purchasing Program, according to a survey released Dec. 8 by McLean, Va., IT public relations firm O'Keeffe & Co. Inc.

The program allows companies that sell to federal agencies through GSA's Federal Supply Service IT schedule to sell through the schedule to state and local governments as well.

More than 85 percent of about 100 IT contractors surveyed by O'Keeffe & Co. said they plan to participate in GSA's program within the next year. Almost half said they would do so within the next six months.

The survey also revealed that contractors already participating in cooperative purchasing have received positive feedback from state and local governments.

According to GSA official Roger Waldron, state and local governments spent about $7 million though the schedule between May and November.

The E-Government Act of 2002 opened the IT schedule to state and local governments for the first time. An interim procurement rule published in May allowed the purchases to begin. Waldron, director of the acquisition management center for GSA's Federal Supply Service, said GSA officials plan to publish the final procurement rule in early spring.

The rule applies to the 50 states, 3,139 counties, 19,365 incorporated municipalities, 14,178 school districts, 550 Native American tribal governments and others.

"The benefits to the vendors are clear: they have the opportunity to increase their total government sales. GSA is encouraging the states to use the schedules as a way to obtain the latest technology, reduce procurement costs and ultimately pass on the savings to the taxpayer," said Gary Feit, assistant commissioner for the Office of Marketing in GSA's Federal Supply Service.

The survey also found:

*More than 80 percent of contractor respondents anticipate their overall revenue will increase because of their participation in cooperative purchasing.

*Of the contractors already participating in cooperative purchasing program, 83 percent make more than half of their solutions available to state and local buyers.

Government Computer News staff writer Jason Miller contributed to this story.

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