GSA Highlights E-Commerce Portal Feedback


One of the General Services Administration’s top acquisition officials provided an update on more than 200 pages of feedback received from industry on e-commerce portal plans.

One month before the General Services Administration is due to submit a report to Congress on the second phase of its commercial platforms initiative, the agency provided an update quantifying the kind of feedback it received from industry.

In a blog post, Federal Acquisition Services deputy assistant commissioner Laura Stanton condensed more than 200 pages of comments received through GSA’s December request for information from e-commerce portal providers and suppliers.

According to Stanton, comments centered around five key themes:

  • Keep it simple. GSA should not be asking for more than what is currently required under the micro-purchase threshold of $10,000.
  • Data protection ambiguity. Both portal providers and suppliers expressed concern and diverging views around the data protection language contained in Section 838 of the law.
  • Pricing. It will need to be competitive and an improvement over existing purchasing channels, and refunds to GSA do not reflect commercial practice.
  • Competition. GSA should not limit the proof of concept to just the e-marketplace model and should ensure competition across the various models, with both portal providers and suppliers.
  • Category concerns. Health and IT products have unique supply chain requirements and warrant special consideration.

GSA, along with the Office of Management and Budget, have spent the past year conducting market research and working with agencies and dozens of companies to hammer out e-commerce portal details.

The concept for e-commerce platforms sprung from the Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act, a section of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. It has since morphed from creating a single governmentwide e-commerce portal where agencies could procure goods and services to GSA and OMB opting for a proof of concept for multiple e-marketplace providers.

Feedback received thus far will help inform how GSA decides to move the proof of concept forward.

“As I look across all the feedback received, the truly dynamic and complex nature of the e-commerce landscape is evident,” Stanton said. “These comments and recommendations help to inform our efforts, as GSA and OMB works towards submittal of the Phase II report to Congress, in March 2019.”