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December 2010

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Judiciary's BPAs are Effective Product of Teamwork

When it comes to shopping, simpler can be better. For the federal Judiciary, blanket purchase agreements, or BPAs, offer a simplified and cost-effective way for courts to buy information technology products and services.

“We assist the courts by helping them acquire IT products and services in a quicker, more efficient manner,” said Roch Turco, deputy chief of the Technology Management Services Division in the Administrative Office (AO).

“Partnering with the AO’s Procurement Management Division, we establish BPAs for IT commodities that allow the federal Judiciary to leverage its aggregate purchasing power, making it cheaper and easier to buy them,” he said.

The upside: Time and money can be saved. The downside? “There really is no downside,” Turco said. “BPAs offer reduced administrative burden and costs when orders are placed at the court unit level, but use of our BPAs by court units is purely optional.”

A BPA, which typically runs for five years, is a written agreement spelling out the terms and conditions of future transactions if and when orders are placed against the agreement. BPAs for personal computers, laptops and other IT products and services account for more than $25 million annually in federal Judiciary spending.

Savings occur through discounted prices and the decreased time courts have to spend in the administrative procurement process. “Court units can often place orders under the BPAs without obtaining multiple quotes, although some specific BPAs may require further competition,” explained Henry Weeks, chief of the Technology Management Services Division’s Vendor Management Branch.

Just what commonly used IT products and services should be included in the Judiciary’s BPAs becomes a matter of teamwork between the courts and the AO. “I’m excited about the interest the AO has in expanding the availability of products and vendors through additional BPAs,” said Jeannette Clack, chief deputy clerk of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Clack is a member of a new working group, led by Weeks, to investigate opportunities to expand the way the Judiciary’s buying power is leveraged. “BPAs are a good resource for courts to streamline and simplify the procurement process,” she said. “I look forward to bringing a faster turnaround time to even more purchases.”