Oct 20 2015

OMB Orders Feds to Use Acquisition Contracts for New Computers

This is a provision of FITARA, which aims to make government IT more efficient.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was created to finally bring federal IT out of the dark ages. The recent Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandate that federal agencies stop soliciting new contracts for desktop and laptop computers is a perfect example of the push to modernize IT playing out in real time.

Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott and Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung unveiled the new directive last week, Nextgov reports. According to FedScoop, civilian agencies looking for new desktops or laptops must use an acquisition contract through the General Services Administration’s Schedule 70, the Department of Health and Human Services' Chief Information Officer-Commodities and Solutions program or NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement.

Nextgov adds that a 2014 inspector general review discovered that back in 2012, one agency paid a startling 42 prices for one desktop computer. The new OMB policy targets efficiency to prevent similar wastes of resources.

“Most federal employees need just basic computing capability to get our jobs done, but we often have hundreds of options — or configurations — to choose from, which further fragments our position in the market,” Scott and Rung explain in a White House blog post.

To avoid this, they’ve come up with three orders:

1.     Reduce the number of contracts for laptops and desktops by prohibiting new awards and limiting purchasing to a small number of high-performing — or best-in-class — contracts;

2.     Standardize laptop and desktop configurations for common requirements; and

3.     Develop and modify demand management and business practices to optimize price and performance.

Although OMB doesn’t expect agencies to hit 100 percent of their computer spend using the designated contract vehicles, it has established a set of goals to reach over the next few years: 45 percent of the spend during the 2016 fiscal year, 60 percent in 2017 and 70 percent in 2018.

Each agency has until Feb. 28 to create a transition plan.

Mihai Simonia/Thinkstock

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