About 33 agencies have participated in workshops so far that are leading up to a General Services Administration-led buying venture for about 55,000 laptops and desktop computers, an official said Monday.
GSA has been working with the Office of Management and Budget to coordinate the fourth-quarter buying venture, which would help agencies comply with a memo released last year, Steve Krauss, director of category management strategic execution at GSA, said Monday at a panel during an Industry Day focused on shared services.
The OMB memo mandated that agencies use governmentwide acquisition contracts for purchasing laptops and desktop computers.
[Read more: OMB to feds: No new desktop or laptop contracts]
Panelists, among them Krauss, talked about recent government efforts to integrate category management principles into agency workflow so they share best practices to make more centralized buying decisions together and eliminate redundancy.
Panelist Stephanie Hrin of GSA’s Unified Shared Services Management, who hosted the event, said shared services is “something that makes sense to us taxpayers.”
“I think that the same thing can be said for category management,” she said. “They’re both about efficiencies, and using resources in the best way possible.”
The laptop and desktop project has been one of the recent efforts Krauss’ team has been tackling.
“We’re seeing significant savings quite frankly,” Krauss said, so far, an average discount rate of about 18 percent.
Krauss estimated plans are in the works so far for 55,000 laptops and desktop computers to be purchased during the event, he said.
“Our industry partners get out of that also increased reliability of demand and also a better understanding of where the government is going from a purchasing perspective,” he said.
A crucial thing to remember, he noted, is “it’s not really about unit cost.”
“The key to optimizing value with money the government is spending is to make sure that we’re really optimizing requirements,” Krauss said.
So the best strategy is to share things like best practices, and statements of work, Krauss said, to get the best value for the money spent.
Panelist Lesley Field, deputy administrator of the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said $275 billion a year is spent on “common spend,” certain purchases that nearly every agency makes.
“We were looking at a tremendous amount of redundancy and inefficiency,” Field said.
In June, the Category Management Leadership Council approved the first version of strategic plans to look at ways to eliminate redundancies in the federal government’s buying decisions.
They are working on the second version, Field said, which will refine the initial plans and look further out into the future.