Better Process, Price through Government-wide Strategic Solution (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops Program

Posted by Kay Ely
on September 11, 2018

We pride ourselves on providing federal agencies with IT solutions at the best value through an efficient buying experience.

To further improve the buying experience, the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for desktops and laptops program formed a partnership among procurement teams from agencies across government. Working closely with our industry partners, the GSS team negotiated better terms and conditions, more consistent pricing, and a streamlined buying process for federal, state, and local governments.

The government depends on desktops and laptops every day to accomplish its mission. More than $1 billion is spent annually on this critical IT hardware. Most of this $1 billion is spent on similar desktop and laptop configurations from the same original equipment manufacturers, but spread across thousands of different contracts.

The Workstation Category Team, established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), worked closely with agency and industry stakeholders to create GSS standard configurations. They’re designed to meet 80 percent of the government’s desktop and laptop requirements, helping the government aggregate demand and use its consolidated buying power.

How’d we do it?

The category team worked to ensure participating contractors offer the full breadth of GSS-compliant desktops, laptops, options, and accessories through their IT Schedule 70 contracts. Also, GSA Advantage catalogs for GSS desktops and laptops were fully overhauled to clearly show compliant machines, with full descriptions and a menu-driven option and accessory configurator.

To make buying these products quick and easy, IT Schedule 70 awarded three multi-agency (government-wide) single-award Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) to support OMB’s GSS Desktop and Laptop category management strategy.

These BPAs are recompeted annually to ensure the latest technology is available in a GSS-compliant configuration, at the most competitive prices in government.

These three BPAs are available via the GSA AdvantageSelect buying platform.

Better Buying for the Future

GSS program use has increased nearly 700 percent over the last two fiscal years. At the same time, use of our AdvantageSelect GSS BPA has increased by 400 percent from FY17.

The discounts realized through the competitive process encouraged this growth. Agencies executing large-quantity purchases through GSA’s GSS Program in FY18 have realized discounts of up to 40 percent off GSA contract ceiling prices.

To make sure everyone hears about this, GSA’s IT Hardware Category Management team hosts regular training sessions that tell agencies how to maximize savings and buying power for obtaining GSS-compliant desktop and laptop computers, as well as options, accessories, and peripherals at competitive prices.

These webinars make it easier for agencies to benefit from this outstanding program; learning more about simple purchasing options is especially important to government buyers as we near the end of a fiscal year. To learn more about the configurations and contracts and to make your purchase, see GSA Advantage or the Acquisition Gateway.

For GSA GSS Desktop/Laptop help, please visit our webpage or contact workstations@gsa.gov

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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IT Hardware: Delivering Cost Savings through Desktops & Laptops

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 28, 2017

This blog post is part of a seven-part series reviewing the Acquisition Gateway and IT Category data, trends, expertise, and advocacy that GSA’s ITC organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Paul Morris, IT Hardware Subcategory Manager for ITC in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). He oversees the management of GSA’s IT Hardware solutions, Client and Supply Management, and Market Analysis, and publishes relevant content within the IT Hardware’s Category Hallway in GSA’s Acquisition Gateway.)

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, GSA implemented and delivered contract vehicles and easy-to-use solutions that resulted in significant savings for government agencies. One major initiative that is already leveraging the federal government’s buying power, collaborating with other federal agencies and industry, and creating acquisition efficiency is the Government-wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops program.

The GSS program is co-led by HHS/NIH, NASA, and GSA with heavy involvement from the Army CHESS program.  GSA’s IT Schedule 70 contractors offer the GSS standard configurations for desktop and laptop computers that provide government agencies lower pricing, standard terms and conditions, access to spend and pricing data, and best- in-class solutions. These standard configurations were developed by the GSS team after evaluating governmentwide spend data for laptops and desktops, and working with more than 20 agencies to understand what was being purchased and what the agencies’ needs were.

GSS for Desktops & Laptops Sees Growth

Current spend indicates that desktops and laptops account for approximately 10 percent of the total $12 billion in annual government IT hardware. When GSA’s GSS Desktop and Laptop program first launched in October 2015, we were encouraged by the initial success. Based on FY 2017 end-of-first quarter data, we are seeing purchasing increase through the GSS Desktop and Laptop IT Schedule 70 program, as well as across NIH’s Chief Information Officer-IT Commodities and Solutions (NIH CIO-CS) governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (NASA SEWP).

Moreover, across GSA’s IT Schedule 70, NIH’s CIO-CS GWAC, and NASA’s SEWP, we have seen an increase in usage to date, when compared to the same period during FY 2016 (an increase from $270,000 to nearly $5 million in GSS purchases alone). We expect strong growth throughout the remaining three quarters in FY 2017, well over 2016’s approximate spend of $16 million.

Likewise, in the previous fourth quarter of FY 2016, GSA and NASA government-wide buying events resulted in discounts of 15 percent to 23 percent from standard contract pricing (depending on the GSS system purchased), an average savings of 19 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum was one agency that benefitted from the government-wide buying event. Since we provided the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with cost estimates of need upfront, they were able to procure an additional 55 computers because of the savings.

Looking Ahead in IT Hardware

We are taking lessons learned and making continual improvements to our hardware offering.  We are working with the GSS team and will be upgrading the standard configurations, exploring options for expanding the offerings, and planning our FY17 buying event.

Here’s a look ahead for the IT Hardware Subcategory:

  • We’re improving GSA eTools — This year, all GSS Desktops and Laptops in GSA Advantage!® will be easy to find and will have a consistent look and feel for configuration and pricing information.
  • We’re incorporating FY 2016 lessons learned into our planning for FY 2017 GSS Buying Events — We are changing the equipment configuration and features, and communicating early that we intend to host a fourth quarter GSS buying event.
  • We’re supporting the IT Security Subcategory’s Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Provenance pilot — By improving existing SCRM into our solutions, we can reduce agency risk and increase buyer confidence. We’ll work with our customers and vendors to assess the use of SCRM controls in the desktop and laptop purchase experience.

We are excited about the solutions in place under GSS Desktops and Laptops, and the potential to save federal agencies time and money.

To learn more about the IT Hardware Category program, contracts, hardware configurations, or to share your thoughts on the program, reach out to the GSA IT Hardware Subcategory Manager, or browse the Acquisition Gateway’s IT Hardware Subcategory Hallway.

We also offer several ways to purchase IT hardware:

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Government-wide Desktops and Laptops, Smarter Buying

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 26, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Kay Ely, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Integrated Technology Services.

ITS prides itself on providing federal agencies with IT solutions at the best value through the smoothest possible buying process. The recent addition of a new approach to buying hardware, the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for laptops and desktops, is a prime example of how several agencies worked together with our partners across government and industry to improve the buying process and at the same time get better prices for federal, state and local governments.

As govvies, we depend on laptops and desktops every day to get our work done and the amount we spend on computers proves it. Every year the federal government spends more than $1 billion to ensure that we have the critical equipment to do our jobs. 80 percent of that is spent on the same equipment from the same companies across thousands of contracts, with little visibility from one agency to the next as to what price is being paid. We knew there had to be a better way.

By working closely with agencies and industry partners an innovative approach was developed for acquiring the best equipment at the best price. To put it simply, standardizing requirements, and buying collectively – this is the “Governmentwide Approach”.

How’d we accomplished this?

Using a category management approach, IT Schedule 70 conducted a reverse auction to support the Office of Management and Budget’s recent GSS Laptop/Desktop buying events.

Thirty-six agency representatives attended these buying events to learn more about their computer purchasing options and five agencies have already collectively estimated intent to buy 56,000 laptops and desktops – this “acting as one” approach drove prices down by an average of 16 percent. And that is one good example! The GSS team plans to conduct buying events on a bi-annual basis moving forward.

To participate, suppliers submitted their initial quotes for six optimized configurations (three laptop and three desktop) to GSA via eBuy. Those who were rated technically acceptable were invited to participate in the pricing phase through the GSA Reverse Auction platform. Impress Technologies Solutions Inc. (Dell), ABM Federal Sales (Hewlett-Packard), and NCS Technologies Inc. (Lenovo) were awarded those contracts.

To make it easy for more agencies to benefit from this, we have been hosting Government-wide Strategic Solutions for Desktops and Laptops Buying Event Office Hours – informational sessions with agencies to explain the category management principles applied, the configurations and how to easily place orders.

Better Buying for the Future

Using this program, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has already placed an order for $230,845 which included 100 laptops and 125 desktops. This new pricing enabled the Museum to maximize their budget and get an additional 55 computers that they otherwise couldn’t have. Overall, this came to a savings, against the old pricing, of nearly $75K.

This is the first time that the government has bought laptops and desktops in this way. It’s a great example of category management at work — government and industry worked together, saving U.S. taxpayers an initial $8 million governmentwide, with additional savings to come as more agencies leverage these contracts.

By using this program, your agency could save up to 27 percent off the GSA standard pricing. Of course, the actual savings are going to vary from item to item, but overall this is very good for government. We’re encouraged by the initial success of this program. As we near the end of the fiscal year, government agencies can benefit greatly from the lower pricing to get the best value possible for their dollars spent.

To learn more about the configurations, contracts and to make your purchase, see GSA Advantage or the Acquisition Gateway.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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