Doan wants overhaul of governmentwide acquisition contracting

Procuring goods from governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) formed outside the critical mission of the providing agency needs to stop, according to General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan.

Doan is working toward having all commodity IT buys facilitated through her agency.

"GWAC proliferation stops the government from being able to get volume discounts," said Doan, who spoke earlier this week at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Federal Procurement Business Forum in Washington. "GSA needs to look at legacy programs to see where savings could be achieved. SEWP and others have outlived their usefulness. GSA can buy basic IT equipment faster and for less cost."

In her effort to achieve this goal, Doan is focusing her attention on NASA's Scientific Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP). This GWAC, which is in the process of moving to its fourth iteration, provides workstations, servers, peripherals, network equipment, storage devices and other IT products to federal agencies.

In a letter to Paul Denett, Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator, Doan asked that SEWP IV not be authorized. Her petition, she said, will not directly affect the businesses involved in the current GWAC.

"NASA's SEWP III still has a one- to two-year lifecycle. SEWP IV doesn't even exist, yet I am asking them to deny it," Doan said. "It was first issued 20 years ago when high-end computers were needed. Industry has moved forward and workstations are now commodities you can get off the shelf."

Along with SEWP, Doan is pushing the Treasury Department to abandon its Treasury Communications Enterprise $1 billion telecommunications contract. She has met with Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget officials several times and asked them to issue a bridge contract until May 2007. Treasury then would move onto GSA's Networx telecommunications contract. GSA expects to award Networx in March.

"There is a strong likelihood that one of their providers will be a Networx awardee so the time and cost to move to our contract will not be too bad," she said.

Relieving financial burdens associated with becoming a member of a GWAC also is an area of interest, Doan said.

"Business is our partner. We need to reduce the cost of companies doing business with government," Doan said.

One way Doan hopes to do this is by limiting the number of GWACs available. Doan is calling for the elimination of SEWP and TCE because their objectives fall outside the main mission of NASA and Treasury, respectively.

"GSA can buy cheaper to help NASA. SEWP was not created to do that. We don't need GWACs if they're not doing anything," Doan said.

By allowing SEWP and the formation of other GWACs that are not a part of an agency's main mission, they compete with GSA's GWACs, increasing prices. This is counterproductive to GSA's mission.

"GWAC proliferation goes against driving cost down," she said.

By restricting the number of GWACs, Doan believes GSA can lower the cost for vendors to submit proposals. She also said vendors then should pass the savings back to agencies.

"If we can drive the cost down for you, we want you to drive the cost down to the people [agencies]," Doan said. "The question is, is anything we do realistic? People make up their mind that something is impossible and they do not even try. We will ask them to do it voluntarily."

In other words, she wants to hear her two favorite words: Denett saying "Yes," to rejecting SEWP IV; and businesses saying "Now," to when agencies will start seeing savings.

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