OFPP expands SmartBuy approach to IT hardware

After the incremental but growing success of the SmartBuy enterprise software licensing program, the Office of Management and Budget is expanding the concept to IT hardware.

Under the Office of Federal Procurement Policy's Strategic Sourcing Initiative, an agency working group will look at how to buy hardware, which includes servers, desktop PCs, printers and other peripherals, and four other commodities?cell phones, office supplies, copiers and express delivery?using the federal government's volume purchasing power.

An OMB official, who requested anonymity, said the General Services Administration, the Treasury Department and OFPP are leading the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative.

Officials said GSA also has established a strategic sourcing office, headed by Mary Davie, who also heads the Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Customer Accounts and Research.

"We are trying to develop a community of people who are actively engaged in doing this and help GSA put the people together," said the OMB official. "We have asked the chief acquisition officer to take the lead, but we also asked them to take a multidisciplinary approach and bring in the CIO, the chief financial officer and the small business director."

Agencies will meet with GSA's commodity managers and determine what are the best ways to buy these five products and develop an acquisition strategy, the official said.

Tom Kireilis, SmartBuy's senior program manager, said the lessons learned from SmartBuy could be applied to how the Strategic Sourcing Initiative buys hardware.

For SmartBuy, "we looked for commonalties among agencies," he said. "It is a matter of doing market analysis and figuring out who owns the market, how much they are buying and then negotiating the best terms and conditions."

GSA's John Schwartz, who worked on SmartBuy, is working on the strategic sourcing initiative for IT hardware, Kireilis said.

The challenge that Kireilis described is a huge one for the Strategic Sourcing Initiative, the OMB official said.

"We have to look at a number of different sources for information," the official said. "We will look at the Federal Procurement Data System, purchase cards and industry data. We want to bite off just enough to understand the requirements."

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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