Senate passes Local Preparedness Acquisition Act

A bill that would allow state and local governments to have cooperate purchasing power of GSA Schedule 84 has passed the Senate. The bill, best known as The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act, would allow state and local governments and authorities under these governments, to purchase security technologies and surveys off the GSA schedule, providing a discounted cost to those entities.

The bill passed the Senate on June 10, and is now to be sent to President Bush's desk, where it is anticipated to be signed into law. Don Erickson, director of government relations for the Security Industry Association (SIA), said he believed the bill would be on the president's desk within a few days and would be federal law within 10 days. After that point, Erickson said he anticipates the GSA would enact some sort of interim ruling allowing state and local governments to purchase off of Schedule 84 as it formalizes its processes for this cooperate purchasing law. Erickson noted that the bill had large support, not only from the Senate, but also from groups like SIA and the National Association of Counties.

The bill is patterned similarly after a section in the E-Government Act of 2002, which allowed state and local governments cooperative purchasing rights from GSA Schedule 70, the schedule that encompasses most IT products and services. The bill builds upon Section 833 of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act, which gave limited cooperative purchasing rights, mainly for terrorism preparation.

The difference with the new law is that it would apply to all electronic security systems and guarding services that are included in Schedule 84.

The GSA schedules are essentially fair-price/discounted price and approved technology/services listings. Buying off a GSA schedule allows the federal government to typically receive lower-than-retail type of pricing for these services and technologies, and SIA's Erickson that it in turn gives vendors, such as SIA members, added exposure in the government marketplace.

Of course, many dealers which have worked closely with state and local governments (including public school systems) may not be listed on GSA schedules unless they have been specifically listed as part of vendor or a participating integrator's GSA agreement. Erickson says, however, that he doesn't expect the Local Preparedness Acquisition Act to affect independent dealers' businesses.

"It certainly benefits dealers if they have their own GSA contract, or if they don't have their own GSA contract, but are considered a participating dealer [i.e., listed as participating member on a vendor or integrator's contract]," said Erickson. "If they're not participating dealers, and don't have their own GSA contract, we believe this is an incentive to become a participating dealer.

They can still deal directly with the state and local governments. If they're offering very good prices and good services to these state and local governments, they won't lose the business."

Erickson stressed that although the act gives these governments access to Schedule 84, it by no means forces them to buy from that schedule. In fact, since the passage of the similar 2002 measure for Schedule 70, it hasn't meant that IT purchases for state and local governments have been fed through the GSA schedule.

"This is fully voluntary," he said.