In a first for Hawaii, state and local agencies can now use the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Program for procuring IT services, offering the potential of leveraged pricing and streamlined purchasing — and the possibility of savings to taxpayers.
The news was made public on Wednesday, March 1 by the Hawaii State Procurement Office (SPO) and the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), which recently let government agencies have access to the GSA Schedule 70 for procuring IT services.
SPO administrator Sarah Allen said the two Hawaii agencies collaborated to find a way to use GSA Schedule 70, which covers general purpose commercial IT services. Procedures are now in place, Allen noted, to ensure the GSA schedule works in the state’s best interest and yields “fair and reasonable” prices.
“We are always looking at what options our specialists have in their procurement toolbox. The GSA Schedule 70 is another tool available to the Hawaii procurement workforce,” Allen said, noting that it’s allowable as a cooperative under state procurement law.
State agencies — like their local counterparts — have been seeking ways to improve pricing and speed procurement for more than a decade.
Using GSA schedules to leverage the fed’s buying power for state and local IT is something lawmakers have long contemplated — though the process is not without political issues and can negatively impact small and minority businesses and local economies.
In some cases, California has opted for strategic sourcing on IT procurement, still seeking the lowest price on the best product — but further scrutinizing costs by consolidating contracts through re-bidding, limiting vendors and ensuring prices follow current market trends.
Elsewhere, cooperatives like the National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO) ValuePoint program, the Michigan Collegiate Telecommunications Association (MiCTA), and the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance have flexed their ability to hold competitions for multiple award contracts, lowering technology costs for buyers and sellers.
GSA Schedule contracts typically contain pre-negotiated prices, delivery terms, warranties, and other terms and conditions that streamline the buying process, Hawaii ETS said in a news release. The use of some GSA Schedule 70 contracts is allowed under GSA’s Cooperative Purchasing Program.
“This provides streamlined access to additional, cost-effective services in support of modernization projects as well as ongoing operations and maintenance,” said state CIO Todd Nacapuy, who leads ETS.
It’s not entirely a done deal, however. Use of GSA Schedule 70 by Hawaii state and local agencies still requires each jurisdiction’s CIO or designee to sign off.
ETS said it has given specific instructions on using Schedule 70 to executive branch departments and agencies, excluding the Department of Education, University of Hawaii, and Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
Agencies can also use GSA Advantage!, GSA’s e-commerce website, to search GSA contract holder products and services, research product information and make online purchases — if authorized to do so.