GSA reignites strategic sourcing of office supplies with new contract awards

Tuesday - 8/12/2014, 4:27pm EDT

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

The General Services Administration finally awarded its latest Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for office supplies after a series of protests delayed momentum of the program.

GSA picked 21 companies for OS3--20 of which are small businesses.

GSA said it expects this newest generation of FSSI contracts to build on the success of the Office Supplies 2 program particularly for small businesses.

"OS3 is expected to increase the volume of spend going to small businesses including small disadvantaged veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB), a HUBzone business and a consortium of 58 small businesses," according to a GSA release.

It also said OS3 would provide small businesses $9 out of every $10 spent. GSA is opening opportunities for more small businesses to receive contracts later through an open season, on-ramping process.

The awards under OS3 comes despite concerns from the Small Business Administration earlier this year about whether the contract is "bundled" and would have a negative effect on small firms.

GSA faced a flurry of protests on OS3 and came way victorious in them all, which allowed them to proceed with evaluations and awards.

Additionally, GSA ended the OS2 contract in May after 11 vendors protested its attempt to extend the contract for another six months while it completed the OS3 deal.

GSA said the new office supplies contracts could provide more than $90 million in annual savings for government agencies along with other advantages. According to GSA, OS3 lowers administrative costs by streamlining the purchasing process between companies and agencies. It also ensures companies follow contract regulations such as the AbilityOne Program, green purchasing requirements and the Trade Agreement Act, according to the release. GSA also said agencies will be able to better manage spending and measure cost-savings because of the simplified data collection of OS3.

The new contracts simplify buying processes for agencies by standardizing product descriptions for easier comparison as well as using automatic FSSI discounts for purchase card users.

"GSA is leveraging the government's buying power while helping customer agencies make good use of purchasing data, procurement dollars and good business sense in meeting their missions. Programs such as these will help save taxpayer dollars and drive necessary spending on these types of products to our small business partners, making a real positive impact on agency budgets and improving the bottom line for selected small businesses," said Tom Sharpe, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, in the release.

According to information on GSA's website, OS3 covers four main areas including general office supplies, office paper, toner and ink, and "on-the go" products.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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