After delays, GSA awards 3 commercial e-marketplace pilots

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The General Services Administration awarded three commercial e-marketplace contracts Friday, following a series of delays due to protests and the reallocation of resources to assist the government’s coronavirus response.

Amazon Business, Fisher Scientific and Overstock.com received no-cost contracts to pilot e-commerce portals for purchases less than $10,000 for up to three years beginning in about 30 days.

GSA initially planned to award the contracts for modernizing agencies’ purchase of routine commercial items in late March or early April, once it resolved three agency-level protests. But acting Assistant Commissioner of IT Category Laura Stanton announced in April that GSA’s Commercial Platforms Initiative would take a backseat to the “immediate needs” of the pandemic.

“The e-commerce portals proof-of-concept is an important step in offering a solution for purchasing commercial products online that protects our federal supply chain against malicious and counterfeit goods, furthering our national security,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy in the announcement. “Our approach continues to be shaped by DHS’s Best Practices for E-Commerce Platforms and Third-Party Marketplaces, combining better security practices, better data, and better pricing.”

GSA expects the portals to provide insights into agencies’ open-market online spend outside of existing contracts, which is estimated at about $6 billion annually.

A modern buying solution will be refined through repeated testing.

“We applaud GSA for moving this program forward,” said Anne Rung, public sector director at Amazon Business, in a statement. “As one of the industry participants awarded a contract, we look forward to providing an efficient, cost-effective option for federal purchasing that brings savings to taxpayers while also supporting independent small and diverse businesses selling in our stores.”

Section 846 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act directed GSA to explore multiple e-commerce platforms, a great example of government turning to industry for innovation, Rung said.

Stakeholder feedback has been critical to the process, said Julie Dunne, Federal Acquisition Service commissioner.

“I’m excited for the path ahead — especially the spend data,” Dunne said. “Such data will help with compliance in areas like AbilityOne, small business, and supply chain risk management.”

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Amazon Business, commercial e-marketplace, coronavirus, Emily Murphy, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Fisher Scientific, General Services Administration (GSA), Julie Dunne, Laura Stanton, NDAA, Overstock.com
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