New ‘hallways' lead to strategic sourcing expansion

Thursday - 7/3/2014, 5:54pm EDT

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

The Obama Administration is hoping that a series of new "hallways" it's building will lead to more strategic sourcing opportunities. The General Services Administration and the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC) will launch the first hallway for information technology this fall.

The so-called "hallways" will bring "all the dollars spent under a similar commodity area, like IT, under stronger management. While many agencies will continue to award their own contracts, the ‘commodity manager' leading the hallway will develop a team of experts to offer guidance and best practices, to ensure pricing transparency, and common standards," according to a progress report posted on Performance.gov.

In addition to creating an IT "hallway," which will include both hardware and software, GSA and SSLC plan to expand to administration and human resources hallways as well, according to the report.

GSA and the Office of Management and Budget already reached one of their cross-agency strategic sourcing goals this summer with the launch of a prices paid portal for agencies. According to GSA's website, the prices paid tool will "provide greater visibility on the prices paid by government agencies for commonly purchased goods and services and related purchasing behaviors to the acquisition community, in order to support efforts to reduce total cost of ownership for these goods and services." The portal page also states the tool is currently in the "proof of concept stage, focusing on office supplies, domestic delivery services, and FAS Alliant and Alliant SB GWAC. Other goods and services will follow after this pilot period."

Moving forward with strategic sourcing contracts

GSA and OMB also have dealt with pushback from the Small Business Administration and companies over the third generation strategic sourcing contract for office supplies (OS3) over the past few months. GAO recently dismissed several of these protests. In the Performance.gov report, GSA and OMB set the deadline for OS3 contract awards for this month.

Despite a few bumps in the road, strategic sourcing leaders have successfully implemented contracts for office supplies, domestic delivery solutions, information retrieval services and wireless services. GSA awarded the new domestic delivery services contract (DDS3) to UPS and FedEx this April, after the previous contract saved taxpayers almost $50 million, according to the progress update.

According to Performance.gov, GSA and DoD are already planning for next generation domestic delivery and NASA is heading up an interagency group discussing workstation solutions with industry. Meanwhile, GSA is reviewing and responding to protests to maintenance and janitorial supplies contracts.

The report laid out broader goals for strategic sourcing including lowering prices and administration costs, providing more options for purchases as well as making the purchasing process easier, designing initiatives focused on maximizing small business involvement and increasing agency commitment to strategic sourcing services.

The SSLC will meet in August and is looking to "build upon its past success to implement government-wide category management — a technique often used in the private sector. Through strong management of commonly purchased goods and services, or categories, the federal government will improve information sharing, broaden and strengthen its interagency collaboration, reduce duplication, ensure metric and data- driven decisions and deliver greater value and savings," the report stated.

The Obama administration has set new cross-agency priority goals for managing government as part of its 2015 budget. Federal News Radio examines the eight areas identified by the White House in our special report, 2014 Cross-Agency Priority Goals.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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