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GSA recently asked for feedback on proposed requirements for the upcoming e-commerce portals program. (Fedscoop, July 2, 2019)

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires GSA put into place a multiple-award proof of concept site similar to those of Amazon and other large online commerce sites. This will update the way agencies purchase products outside of existing contracts. (ibid)

An estimated $6 billion is spent on open-market purchases through government-issued credit cards. The e-commerce portals program pilot will launch with hand-picked agencies and a spending limit of $10,000 on any one order. GSA is asking Congress to raise the threshold to $25,000 for the five-year pilot to better evaluate the program. (ibid)

“During the initial proof of concept, GSA will encourage robust competition through the implementation of multiple e-marketplace platforms,” said a deputy assistant commissioner at the Federal Acquisition Service within GSA. “We are looking to leverage business-to-business terms whenever practicable, to allow for streamlined buying while obtaining a more transparent and centralized view of the type of government-wide spend.” (ibid)

The goal of the Commercial Platforms Program is to start small and refine. The Commercial Platforms Initiative is just one of four Federal Marketplace Strategy projects. The draft solicitation was issued on July 2nd and is open for public comment for 30 days. (GSA interact July 2, 2019)

Interested in how you might fit into the e-commerce portals program? Give us a call.

GSA’s Guide to Non-Christmas Shopping

GSA is starting small with its commercially-operated online purchasing portals, with a pilot scheduled by the end of 2019.

Initially, only commercial products/services below the government’s micro-purchase limit will be offered. But the threshold of $10,000 differs from the $250,000 Congressional limit put into place at the time the e-commerce experiment was ordered, which allows GSA to sidestep policy requirements such as the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. We aren’t certain how these will apply to the new e-commerce portal, as purchases below the $10,000 threshold are already exempt from a wide variety of procurement laws. GSA wants the portals to show agency buyers the vendor’s business size and qualification as a preferred supplier in other categories. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

There is a current gap between what the government procures through open market procurement  (often via a purchase card) and what the government knows it buys for commercial items. GSA intends that the centrally managed and monitored portal will assist the government in determining the products agencies are purchasing and introducing into the federal supply chain. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

The draft terms and conditions seem to deviate substantially from the FAR, and are a little “gray,” so we need to wait and see how this turns out. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018) We all know that our Ts and Cs are of the utmost importance to government auditors and regulatory compliance. Other important questions include:

  • why would agencies use the new e-commerce platform when they can get good commercial item prices via GSA Schedules and the Advantage portal?
  • will the new e-commerce portal actually save the Government money?

This nifty e-commerce pilot portal will help determine the answer to these questions. Do you have a question about the e-commerce portal or GSA Schedules? Give us a call at 301-913-5000: we are here to help.