In January 2003, the General Services Administration published a rule that would allow state and local governments to buy information technology using the GSA schedule contracts, a practice known as cooperative purchasing.
Below you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding cooperative purchasing.
Q: What is the GSA Schedule 70?
A: It's a catalog of vendor contracts used by federal agencies when they need to purchase information technology products. The U.S. Congress decided to allow state and local government agencies to use the catalog beginning May 8, 2003, so they could take advantage of its low prices. Purchasing IT products and services through a cooperative agreement with other government or nonprofit entities is authorized by the federal government procurement rules.
Q: Is use of the GSA Schedule 70 mandatory?
A: Some state agencies are required to use the GSA Schedule 70 contracts. An agency may request an exception to using these sources if another source offers a better value. Please contact your contracting agent to see which contract vehicle works best in your state.
Q: How do I order using the GSA Schedule 70?
A: You're encouraged to use the procedures in Federal Acquisition Regulation, Part 8.4. As an alternative, you may follow your agency's own purchasing procedures.
Q: A supplier did not accept my purchase order. Why?
A: Vendor participation in the GSA Schedule 70 is voluntary, and a vendor may decline an order for any reason. However, the vendor must notify the agency within five days after receiving the order. Global Knowledge has registered to do business with every state agency utilizing the GSA Schedule.
Q: How can I find training to use the GSA Schedule 70?
A: The Federal Supply Service (FSS) is developing an online training course especially for state and local governments.
Q: Is there a downside to using the GSA Schedule 70?
A: It sounds like a great deal, but some state and local purchasing officials are less than excited. For starters, many officials can beat the federal prices. Also, state and local officials can view products online, but they can't place orders online because they don't have federal procurement cards. Further, state and local officials may object to some of the terms and conditions in the GSA contracts. State and local agencies may add their own terms and conditions as long as they don't conflict with those already in the contract.
Q: How do I settle disputes with suppliers?
A: State and local agencies must rely on arbitration or litigation. Only federal agencies may currently settle disputes through the GSA Board of Contract Appeals.
Q: I have been told by vendors that I may purchase off of other GSA schedules, particularly, Audio/Visual Schedule 58. Is this correct?
A: State and local governments are not authorized to use GSA schedules beyond GSA Schedule 70. Under a limited program, state and local law enforcement may access other GSA schedules under certain circumstances.
Q: Can I get lower prices than the posted GSA Schedule 70 price?
A: Yes. The GSA Schedule 70 contract pricing is only a maximum amount. You can always seek a better price. Reasons to seek price reductions include instances where the agency procurement officer has determined that a service or product is available elsewhere at a lower price, or when volume discounts are sought.
The Federal government provides information on Federal Acquisition Regulations and Sole Source Justification.
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