Phase II of GSA’s Commercial Platform Initiative Discussed
Published: December 19, 2018
Last week, panelists at GSA’s industry day shared updates regarding their e-commerce initiative while gathering feedback and concerns from vendors on the proof of concept model.
GSA’s industry day updated the vendor community on its Federal Marketplace Strategy and two key initiatives under it: the MAS Consolidation and Commercial Platform programs. The latter initiative seeks to set-up a buying platform for government purchases of commercial products. Ultimately, the goal of the platform will be to streamline COTS item purchasing for effective and efficient federal buying decisions. Moreover, the new platform will also allow for insight of spending data for programs that does not currently exist, for instance with AbilityOne and federal prison industry spend.
Phase II updates of the Commercial Platform Initiative were provided by this team of panelists:
- Mathew Blum - Associate Administrator at OMB, Office of Federal Procurement Policy
- Laura Stanton - Deputy Assistant Commissioner at GSA, ITC Category Management
- Jeff Koses - Senior Procurement Executive at GSA, Office of Governmentwide Policy
- Mark Lee - Assistant Commissioner at GSA, FAS Office of Policy and Compliance
Section 846 of the FY 2018 NDAA initiated the Commercial Platform, directing 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.”
The GSA team spent Phase I of the initiative creating policy recommendations around modernizing competition requirements and providing those recommendations to Congress in March 2018. The report to Congress proposed three types of portal provider models: E-commerce, E-Marketplace and E-Procurement. As a result, the FY 2019 NDAA provided further clarification to the program by providing GSA with authority to develop competitive procedures, allowing multiple contracts with multiple portals and strengthening data usage protections from providers using portal data for pricing, marketing or competitive purposes.
In Phase II, the team is tasked with conducting extensive market research for their next report to Congress in March 2019 and to develop a plan for an initial proof of concept. Several RFIs, industry days and vendor one-on-ones have already taken place in Phase II, and the latest outreach is in the form of a December RFI, with responses due on the 21st.
Phase II updates provided at the event include:
- Implementation of a pilot/proof of concept by the end of 2019
- Plans for GSA to test the e-marketplace (similar to an Amazon marketplace) platform model in the pilot
- Launch of the proof of concept at the micro purchase threshold of $10,000
- A view of purchase, product and vendor data in the pilot
According to Laura Stanton, the latest RFI seeks feedback on a variety of items concerning the pilot including, “go/no-go” requirements, multiple e-commerce platforms, spending data elements, and data analytics and dashboard capabilities. Mark Lee pointed out that the RFI also seeks input on factors such as dollar value, leveraging existing practices and requirements, and limiting product categories to reduce supply chain risks.
GSA’s Steady Approach
The recurring theme among the panelists is that GSA intends to develop the Commercial Platform with great care, taking as much time as needed for success. Admitting that several areas still remain unclear, such as how the Commercial Platform initiative will work with the MAS Consolidation program and impacts with Buy American Act and Trade Agreement Act regulations, panelists stressed the importance of industry feedback in every step of the process. Moreover, the federal team members highlighted that they intend to take into consideration all stakeholders including purchase cardholders, agencies, suppliers and other e-marketplaces while developing such a modernizing initiative.