OMB Printing Proposal Is Controversial

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FedBizOpps.gov is the single government point-of-entry for federal government procurement opportunities valued at more than $25,000. Government buyers are able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet. Commercial vendors seeking federal markets for their products and services can search, monitor and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire federal contracting community.

“Currently, a small printer must go through the GPO or a private bid service to gain access to government work,” notes Cooper. The proposals to use the FedBizOpps Website would, effectively “liberate those contracts for small printers.”

But DiMario argues that the proposed system would also decrease the availability of contract opportunities. Under the OMB’s proposed changes, federal agency personnel could use credit cards to make non-competitive purchases up to $2,500. More than 80 percent of all orders procured by the GPO are valued at $2,500 or less. Also, those jobs valued at more than $25,000 would be subjected to competition from NAFTA trading partners. Whereas contracts made available under the print procurement system is subject to the “Buy American Act.”

Competition might also be restricted in other ways, according to DiMario. For example the OMB’s current request for bids to print the 2004 U.S. budget restricts competition to within a 50 mile radius of Washington, DC.

Cooper points out that a geographical restriction would be beneficial for small printers. For example, a military base would be able to purchase printing from a local printer under the OMB’s proposal, thus further benefitting a small printer located near the base.

Cooper maintains that the overriding issue is that the current GPO bid system acts as a reverse auction. “Government printing is the only place where the printing industry accepts commodity-type bidding. We are trying to suggest that the best thing for everyone is best value contracts where long-term relationships are built. That is really where we are going with this.”

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