Magazine article Information Today

Library of Congress Set to Save Government Millions

Magazine article Information Today

Library of Congress Set to Save Government Millions

Article excerpt

The U.S. federal government could potentially save tens of millions of dollars in the next several years, as it implements a new strategy for purchasing information products and services. The program, called strategic sourcing, has been used successfully across the government for other categories of products and services, including office supplies, delivery services, and wireless communications.

Authorization to manage strategic sourcing for information products and services has been delegated to the Library of Congress (LC) and will be handled by the FEDLINK (Federal Library and Information Network) program, which has a 50-year track record of helping federal agencies with their library and information programs. The delegation to FEDLINK is significant because it is the first purchasing initiative to be delegated outside of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The FEDLINK program is also unique because it is authorized to negotiate for government agencies across all three branches of the federal government, the District of Columbia, and contractors that purchase products to support federal agencies.

STEM Strategic Sourcing

FEDLINK has been working with GSA to expand the strategic sourcing initiative for several years. FEDLINK has already incorporated strategic sourcing language in its current contracts with more than 130 vendors of information products and services. The current challenge is to identify specific opportunities and coordinate purchasing across multiple agencies. Two commodity councils were established, with participation from buying agencies across the government. The groups are focused on the largest categories of information products and services currently purchased by the government: legal resources and STEM products. Both councils are working to identify opportunities to combine requirements and negotiate better terms for all agencies that purchase these types of resources.

The LC's Federal Research Division has undertaken a significant research effort to identify the potential for cost savings in the way the government buys information products and services. It recently released an updated report that addresses what information products the U.S. government buys and what its prior spending has been during the past several years. The report includes a forecast of spending through 2017, as well as the potential savings if agencies used a strategic sourcing initiative to negotiate better pricing for the products they purchase.

The report defines information products and services in several specific categories, including serials, books, databases, and the services needed today to manage access to those materials. The researchers compiled purchasing data from fiscal year (FY) 1979 through the fourth quarter of 2014. They identified $548.7 million in spending during FY 2014, which was one of the highest annual totals in the period studied. They forecast federal spending on information products to be $645.9 million in FY 2015 and $674.5 million by FY 2017 and estimate that the federal government could have saved between $600 million and $2.4 billion--5% and 20%, respectively--if a strategic sourcing initiative had been in place during the prior years studied.

Information products and services are a challenging commodity to quantify and negotiate around pricing, which the staff members at FEDLINK understand. …

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