GSA Lines Up New Charge Cards

The General Services Administration Tuesday announced the winners of the federal government's largest-ever procurement of charge card services.

American Express, Citibank and US Bank (formerly Rocky Mountain BankCard) were awarded contracts for all three categories of cards: purchase, fleet and travel. NationsBank was awarded a contract for both purchase and travel cards. First National Bank of Chicago and Mellon Bank won contracts for purchase cards only.

The contracts take effect Nov. 30. They will run for five years, with five additional one-year options, and could cover charges totaling $100 billion over 10 years, GSA estimates. In 1997, federal employees charged more than $8.5 billion on 2 million charge cards, generating more than $27 million in refunds and saving the government more than $600 million in administrative costs, GSA says.

The new contracts will replace single-company contracts, under which US Bank provides all purchase cards, American Express provides all travel cards and Wright Express handles all fleet cards. GSA officials say the multiple-contractor system will save the government money by forcing the six companies to compete with each other to offer federal agencies the best bargains.

Each federal agency will be able to select the contractor that best suits its needs, GSA says. By issuing task orders to the contractors, agencies can negotiate for add-ons like smart cards and stored value cards.

GSA is holding a training conference in Washington, D.C. February 23 to 25 to explain the new contracts to federal agencies.

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