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GSA schedule sales flat in 2007.

Sales through GSA schedules grew by only 2% last year, the smallest increase in more than a decade.

Sales through the IT Schedule 70 declined for the third straight year, GSA's chief acquisition officer, Molly Wilkinson, said. IT products and services are the largest component of schedule sales.

Sales for all schedules totaled $35.9 billion in fiscal 2007, compared to $35.1 billion the year before, according to figures Wilkinson presented to the National Contract Management Association conference in Bethesda, MD, Nov. 8. Small businesses won 37% of the dollars.

Wilkinson blamed the drop in IT sales partly on the spread of enterprise-wide contracts run by individual agencies, such as the Navy's Seaport-e and Homeland Security's EAGLE. She complained that such contracts represent "a duplication of effort" that is costly to both government and industry.

Another factor was the Defense Department's pullback from using the schedules following reports of contracting irregularities several years ago. DOD is GSA's largest customer.

In recent months GSA and DOD signed an agreement to work together to resolve differences over proper use of the schedules. Wilkinson said executives of the two agencies meet regularly to iron out any problems.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy plans to issue guidance on the proper use of interagency contracting shortly, according to deputy administrator Robert Burton.

Three large IT companies recently dropped their schedule contracts. Sun Microsystem withdrew from the schedule after the GSA inspector general accused it of overcharging. Canon USA and EMC let their contracts lapse, Federal Computer Week reported.

A former head of the schedules program, Neal Fox, said interagency contracts are "under attack" by overzealous inspectors general.

"They're driving [contracting officers] into the most conservative position possible," he said. The audience of federal contracting professionals broke into loud applause when Fox added, "To me, the most destructive force in government right now is the out-of-control IGs.

"We're in an age of oversight that is not allowing you to do what is efficient, what is good for government," said Fox, who is now a consultant.

Schedule sales grew at double-digit annual rates as high as 35% throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Growth has slowed dramatically since 2004, according to GSA figures.
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Publication:Set-Aside Alert
Date:Nov 23, 2007
Words:369
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