The online purchasing platforms were meant to be awarded and rolled out before the end of the year. But getting agencies equipped with teleworking tech has taken priority.
The General Services Administration’s ongoing journey to develop multiple e-commerce platforms for agency buyers will continue for a bit longer, this time due to the urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency has been working for more than two years on a pilot program—colloquially called “Amazon for government”—to partner with digital purchasing platforms to enable other federal agencies to more easily buy goods under the $10,000 micropurchase threshold. Originally, GSA planned to have at least two platforms up and running this year, though the coronavirus outbreak has thrown that timeline into limbo.
“Not surprisingly, GSA’s resources have shifted to support the COVID-19 response, and we’re having to prioritize certain activities to support the immediate needs of the federal government,” Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner for category management for GSA’s Information Technology Category, wrote Wednesday in a post on Interact. “As a result, the contracting team for the commercial platforms proof of concept has also had to shift their focus to COVID-19 response efforts.”
Stanton said the program is now expecting a delay in the contract awards.
In the post, Stanton said her team had been focused on the e-commerce platforms, but the IT Category also handles acquisitions for critical technologies that support teleworking and other remote work functions required during this pandemic.
“We will continue to move forward as we are able, recognizing that many of our acquisition professionals are prioritizing COVID-19 response work over other acquisition initiatives,” she said. “Our goal is to make the contract award in the coming months.”
While the response to the coronavirus has taken energy from almost every other priority, the e-commerce bid evaluation was already messy, with multiple pre- and post-bid protests, some of which are still pending.
In January, GSA reopened the solicitation, allowing previous bidders to adjust their proposals to meet several significant changes. The revised bids were due January 15, and GSA had intended to reevaluate and make an award before the end of the second quarter, prior to the outbreak.