GSA opens a fast lane for commodity buys

EDITOR's NOTE: This article first appeared on

The General Services Administration has opened a fast checkout lane on its Advantage high volume IT goods ordering platform.

GSA's Advantage Select is designed to allow federal purchasers a more convenient way to order commodity IT goods, said Erv Koehler, regional commissioner for GSA Region 4, in an interview during Federal IT Acquisition Summit in Washington on Oct. 20.

The agency unveiled the choose-and-click capability in June and has been fine tuning it over the last few months.

Among the first IT commodities are the five standard computer workstation configurations mandated for federal use by the Office of Management and Budget on Oct. 16.

GSA Advantage Select, said Koehler, works like the product select function on Amazon, allowing federal contracting personnel to choose and pay for computer monitors, hard drives and other everyday commodity goods more quickly and efficiently.

The products have been pre-competed and are selected among GSA's schedule of vendors.

GSA had said the concept behind Advantage Select is for the agency to do the upfront work for its customers and award short-term blanket purchasing agreements  that leverage existing contractor inventories while looking to tiered pricing discounts. The contracts, said Koehler, are short duration, three months, six months or so, by intent. The shorter contracts, he said, allows GSA to negotiate better pricing more often, keeping it closer to the pricing in commercial markets.

The function, located on GSA's Advantage homepage, is much like the aisle "end-cap" displays at supermarkets, he said, allowing customers to find popular bulk items and pay for them without the work of searching through the entire store for them.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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