The General Services Administration should reinstate the Federal Supply Schedule for government procurement of tires that the agency discontinued Dec. 31 and its officials should think twice before further dismantling the 36-year-old Federal Tire Program. If the GSA continues down this ill-advised path as a way to reduce operating costs, it will leave the government's non-military agencies paying more-not less-for tires with little or no assurance of product quality.
At the suggestion of Arthur Andersen & Co., hired last year to study the efficiency of its operations, the government's main purchasing arm is thinking of dumping the Federal Tire Program's Qualified Products List (QPL) testing for new tires and its Quality Assurance Facility Inspection Program (QAFIP) for retread shops.
This ill-advised and short-sighted action would eliminate quality control from the federal tire program. It also would force hundreds of state and municipal governments, presently relying on the QPL and QAFIP, to develop their own purchasing specifications.
In the chaos that is certain to follow, lowest price-not product value-will be the determining factor in such purchases. And those selling tires to these hundreds of government agencies will face a multitude of confusing and conflicting purchase specifications.
The burden of complying with hundreds of differing tire purchase requirements soon will send tire prices soaring, and the absence of quality control will become apparent in less than three years, predicts Kenneth L. Collings Jr., manager of the GSA Federal Tire Program.
Retreaders in particular should be concerned because an absence of the QPL and QAFIP would bring an unhappy ending to more than seven years of work by Mr. Collings and others to persuade federal procurement officials to accept retreads.
However, everyone-from government tire users to U.S. taxpayers-stands to lose unless the GSA alters its plans.
Ask your senator and congressional representative to contact the GSA and help get it back on course.