GSA Releases Draft Requirements For Governmentwide E-commerce Pilot

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Interested vendors have until Aug. 1 to weigh in on the project, which is expected to officially kick off by the end of the year.

The General Services Administration is asking vendors to weigh in on the potential requirements for a governmentwide e-commerce platform that could make it easier for agencies to buy commercial products.

GSA on Tuesday released a draft solicitation for the initial rollout of the platform, which will allow agencies to quickly purchase commercial products without going through the government’s traditional procurement process. Vendors have until Aug. 1 to offer their input.

Officials plan to award contracts to multiple vendors to build a proof of concept where agencies would be able to buy basic items like office supplies, tools and hardware. The contract would permit two different e-commerce models: platforms that sell products from both the platform developers and third-party vendors, or ones that sell only third-party vendors’ products.

According to the documents, the contract would include a one-year base period, with options to extend up to four more years. GSA plans to begin the pilot in earnest by the end of the calendar year and have an initial version of the platform up and running sometime in 2020.

“An exciting opportunity lies ahead to create not only a modernized buying experience but also reduce the burden for agency partners and suppliers alike,” Laura Stanton, GSA’s deputy assistant commissioner for category management in the IT Category, said in a statement. “During the initial proof of concept, GSA will encourage robust competition through the implementation of multiple e-marketplace platforms.” 

The goal of the initial rollout is to “start small, test and refine,” with only a handful of agencies joining off the bat, officials said. Over time the program will expand to other agencies, and eventually, GSA intends the platform to handle most of the government’s “open market” purchases, a market worth about $6 billion per year.

To inform the solicitation, GSA spent more than a year collecting input from government and potential vendors through multiple industry days and requests for information. In May, GSA said the platform is being explicitly built to lower barriers to entry for small businesses and allow them to compete with traditional government vendors.

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify the different e-commerce models covered by the contract.