The General Services Administration inked a blanket purchase agreement with four major wireless providers Wednesday that it said would save the government $300 million over five years.
The contract with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will dramatically reduce the number of individual wireless phone plans throughout government and allow agencies to pool unused wireless minutes, GSA said in a press release.
“By buying in bulk, we’re buying once and we’re buying well,” GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said. “This common sense approach allows us to do what families and businesses across America do every day.”
The Wireless Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative contracts also will be available to state and local governments, GSA said.
The announcement comes one day before the one-year anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy, which called, among other things, for agencies to purchase commodity information technology such as wireless phones, Internet and computer storage in larger pools to achieve greater economies of scale.
Until recently, the government’s $1.3 billion wireless and mobile device bill was split between more than 800 separate plans and 4,000 individual contracts, GSA said.
In an early test case for consolidation, the Agriculture Department saved about 20 percent of its wireless bill, or $400,000, by consolidating 700 separate mobile service plans with three carriers down to 10 service plans and three contracts.
The wireless initiative was endangered in September 2012 when the Government Accountability Office said GSA failed to prove that several vendor requirements, including the ability to pool unused phone minutes within an agency, were standard fare in commercial contracts.
GSA appears to have held firm on pooling minutes within an agency. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether it had reconfigured other elements of the contract in response to Verizon’s challenge.