The General Services Administration said last week that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have won places on a contracting program that consolidates the agency’s wireless service plans to save an estimated $300 million over the next five years.

The initiative in effect creates a “family plan” with each carrier, through which the government can pool its unused minutes.

The GSA said federal agencies spend about $1.3 billion annually on wireless services and mobile devices purchased through more than 4,000 wireless agreements and 800 wireless plans.

“The Tangherlini family buys cell phone service better than the federal government does in some cases,” said Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator at the GSA, in an interview last week.

He said he expects agencies to embrace the initiative because of its obvious cost-saving benefits. “This one is so self-evident,” he said. “Everyone does this at home.”

The move is part of a broader government effort to consolidate buying power to cut costs and reduce redundancies.

IBM releases efficiency report

The IBM Center for the Business of Government, which sponsors independent research, last week released a report on how federal agencies can speed up their work.

“We see the value of time every day — in claims-processing times, supply chains, lag-times from intelligence collection to analysis to action,” wrote Charles Prow, the report’s editor. “In each of these cases, long cycle times mean higher costs, lower service levels and diminished mission effectiveness.”

The compilation of essays from experts presents ideas on how to make government move faster, including developing measurement systems that allow better assessment, increasing agencies’ reliance on technology for citizen services and shifting to mobile.

GAO rules against ZRA

The Government Accountability Office earlier this month rejected a protest filed by Arlington-based Zeichner Risk Analytics against a Department of Homeland Security contract for infrastructure program studies and analysis support services awarded to the Silver Spring-based Nexight Group.

ZRA’s proposal had received ratings of “satisfactory” for technical approach and understanding, “poor” for management approach and capabilities and “acceptable” for past performance, according to the GAO report.

Though the Nexight Group offered a slightly higher price, the GAO said its proposal received “substantially higher” ratings. ZRA argued that the agency’s evaluation of its proposal was unreasonable, but the GAO did not support the company’s protest.

GAO upholds Global Dynamics protest

The GAO sustained a protest filed by Columbia-based Global Dynamics, which had argued it was wrongly excluded from an Army competition to provide registered nursing services for the San Antonio Military Healthcare System.

Global Dynamics contended that the weaknesses the government identified in its proposal were without basis or could have been easily resolved. It also objected to the Army’s finding that it failed to demonstrate adequate financial capability.

The GAO said the record did not support elements of the agency’s evaluation and upheld the protest. It recommended that the Army reevaluate Global Dynamics’s proposal and reimburse the company for the costs of filing and pursuing the protest.