GSA asks for agencies' help with SmartBuy

General Services Administration officials are asking agencies for their help in negotiating enterprisewide software licensing agreements under the SmartBuy program, said Neal Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition at GSA's Federal Supply Service.

GSA will delegate certain leadership roles, fact-finding tasks and other responsibilities to agencies that have particular expertise in dealing with certain types of software, Fox said.

"For instance, the Defense Information Systems Agency is the acknowledged leader in anti-virus software management. It makes perfect sense to have them help us craft an enterprise-level agreement," he said.

GSA has negotiated two SmartBuy agreements since the program was announced in February 2003 and is negotiating a third agreement. The SmartBuy program is designed to lower prices for agencies through bulk software buying.

The SmartBuy agreements are with ESRI, a geographic information systems software provider, and Manugistics Group Inc., a supply-chain management software provider. GSA is negotiating a third agreement with Novell Inc., a network management software and collaborative software provider, Fox said.

Fox said he hopes the Novell agreement will be complete within two months.

Negotiating the agreements has taken months because agencies must first assess their future software needs, and vendors must then agree to terms that benefit them as well as the government.

"Companies aren't going to come to us and just say, 'We'd like to lower our prices,' " Fox said. "There has to be something additional. For instance, if a company wants to break into a certain software market, putting together a package deal for government agencies to purchase off their GSA schedule contract might be an incentive."

Staff Writer Gail Emery can be reached at gemery@postnewsweektech.com. Jason Miller is a staff writer with Government Computer News. He can be reached at jmiller@postnewsweektech.com.

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