States warm up to GSA's IT schedule

Rep. Tom Davis today stumped for more IT vendors to make cooperative purchasing part of their General Services Administration IT Schedule contracts.

"We think cooperative purchasing is a good thing," the Virginia Republican said. "It opens the marketing opportunities for small businesses and gives large businesses a more efficient way to sell to these governments."

During his speech at FOSE 2004 in Washington, Davis got an unexpected assist from Roger Waldron, GSA's director of acquisition management.

Waldron, who stood up and answered questions from his seat in the audience, said some 30 state and local governments have modified their procurement regulations to allow buys from the schedule's contracts. The latest addition to this group will be Davis' home state of Virginia.

The Virginia Legislature recently passed a bill that would make it easier for state agencies to buy goods and services through IT Schedule contracts. Virginia's bill is awaiting Gov. Mark Warner's signature to become law.

Waldron said the action by Virginia's legislature is one reason GSA officials estimate state and local governments will spend about $100 million by Sept. 30 on the IT schedule buys.

State and local organizations spent $10 million during the final seven months of fiscal 2003. Since Oct. 1, state and local governments bought $33 million worth of goods and services through IT Schedule contracts.

The IT industry will benefit as state and local governments understand how to use and expand cooperative purchasing, said Davis, who shepherded the cooperative-purchasing provision opening the schedule contracts to state and local governments.

New York City, Nevada and Texas are considering changes to their procurement regulations to incorporate cooperative purchasing into their acquisition processes, he said.

Davis also said he would consider opening up cooperative purchasing to industries other than IT but not until it has proven to be a good thing for IT companies.

IT vendors like the opportunity. Waldron said about 1,450 IT companies?of which 1,200 are small businesses?have modified their schedule contracts to add cooperative-purchasing provisions.

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