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Chapter 20 - Joint and Cooperative and GSA Contracts

20.2 Purchases from federal GSA (technology)

20.2.1 Background and description

In 2003, Congress opened GSA IT Contracts (Information Technology and Telecommunications Hardware, Software and Professional Services) for state and local government use. GSA is a catalog of supplier contracts used by federal agencies when they need to purchase information technology products. GSA IT suppliers are selected through an open and continuous qualification process instead of competitive bids or proposals. GSA users seek competition from GSA contractors at the point of sale by obtaining quotes. GSA requires most favored customer pricing, which provides state and local governments with a price advantage based on federal purchasing economies of scale.

GSA contracts are based on price ceilings and contractors are allowed by GSA to offer further discounts to states and localities. GSA encourages state and local governments to establish separate contract arrangements with the GSA supplier. Each GSA IT contract price includes an industrial funding fee (IFF), which is represented in the prices paid by ordering activities and passed on to GSA by contractors. The IFF reimburses GSA for procurement and administrative costs incurred to operate the GSA Program.

Only suppliers with a COOP/PURCH logo next to their names on the GSA IT Contracts have agreed to extend their pricing to state and local governments.

Multiple award schedules (MASs) under GSA IT can be used to meet an agency’s IT needs. For large or complex requirements, MAS suppliers can join with other schedule contract holders and submit a total solution under a team arrangement. A GSA contractor team arrangement (CTA) is an arrangement between two or more GSA suppliers to work together to meet a customer’s requirements. If two or more GSA suppliers have teamed up to provide an IT solution, they will enter into a written agreement (CTA agreement) detailing the responsibilities of each supplier. The CTA allows the GSA suppliers to meet the customer’s needs by providing a total solution that combines the supplies and/or services from the team suppliers' separate GSA schedule contracts. It permits them to complement each other's capabilities to compete for orders for which they may not independently qualify.

A customer benefits from a CTA by buying a solution rather than making separate buys from various suppliers. A CTA relationship is different from a prime contractor-subcontractor relationship. In prime-sub arrangements, the relationship is very tightly defined and controlled by the prime contractor; whereas in CTAs, the roles and responsibilities are defined by the team, as accepted by the purchasing body.

GSA suppliers are allowed to modify their contracts at any time during the contract period, allowing the addition of new IT items regularly. This assures the latest technology is always available to the customer. Incidental items not listed in the GSA contract may be added to a schedule delivery order as long as it results in the lowest overall cost, the appropriate procurement regulations have been applied, and the price has been determined fair and reasonable.