The General Services Administration has reached the next phase of its journey to launch an e-commerce marketplace for use by federal agencies looking to buy commercial off-the-shelf products.
The agency issued a solicitation for e-marketplace portal providers seeking to develop a proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms program.
“As federal procurement continues to evolve, simplifying how we purchase basic commodities will allow agencies to focus more on work that directly serves their missions,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement. “Federal agencies spent approximately $260 million using online portals last year, and it is critical that we use the Commercial Platforms program to better understand and manage this spend.”
The program is a requirement of Section 846 in fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. As such this initiative has been in the works for a while — a draft of this new solicitation was first posted in July. Through market research and feedback from stakeholders, in response to the draft solicitation and industry days held before, GSA has decided to “start small” in its approach to this whole e-commerce thing.
“By using a proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms program, GSA is able to start testing implementation of the program with a small group of interested agencies and utilize actual purchase and spend data to analyze results and then refine the program approach as lessons are learned,” Laura Stanton, deputy assistant commissioner at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, wrote in a blog post in July. “This allows us to test an innovative purchasing channel while also mitigating risk before developing the next phase of the program. ”
The solicitation will be open for 30 days, GSA says. Implementation of this proof of concept, which will be done in partnership with multiple e-commerce platform providers, is expected to occur in “early 2020.”
The e-commerce platform project is a key component of the Federal Marketplace Strategy, GSA’s initiative meant to modernize the federal acquisition experience for both buyers and sellers.
GSA has kicked off the fiscal new year with a bang, both with the launch of this e-commerce solicitation as well as the on-time consolidation of its Multiple Award Schedules program, which it announced it completed Tuesday.