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Feds Inching Towards e-Marketplace for COTS

In response to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), specifically Section 846, GSA recently submitted its phase two implementation plan to Congress for establishing a federal e-commerce portal for buying commercial products. The legislation directed GSA to “…establish a program to procure commercial products through commercial e-commerce portals for purposes of enhancing competition, expediting procurement, enabling market research, and ensuring reasonable pricing of commercial products.” It prescribed a three-phased approach: policy recommendations, analysis and study, and testing concepts. The submission of the implementation plan completes phase two and enters phase three of testing proofs of concepts. The phase two report specifies GSA’s program decisions, legislative recommendations, and findings from its market research and consultations.

GSA is evaluating e-commerce and e-procurement portal models for opportunities and benefits. GSA also recommends that the micro-purchase threshold (MPT) be increased from $10,000 to $25,000 for five years for purchases made through “GSA-approved commercial e-commerce portals.” This change would require legislative action.

GSA’s believes this is an opportunity for the government to review, assess, and modernize its current approach toward the buying of COTS items at large. The proof of concept will allow GSA to test whether there are savings and efficiency potential to be gained through an e-marketplace platform for federal purchasing. The proof of concept model will also allow GSA to evaluate and test the model in an ever-evolving and fast-changing e-commerce landscape. GSA’s next steps include the issuance of a draft RFP, which is due out by the end of June for e-marketplace service providers, and implementation of a proof of concept by the end of the calendar year. The phase three report is due to Congress in March 2020.

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