GSA’S E-COMMERCE PLAN WON’T CHANGE ACQUISITION OVERNIGHT
Those expecting GSA’s commercial e-commerce portal initiative to radically change the way the government buys commercial products can relax – for now. The agency intends to implement the program, sometimes known by its Congressional name “Section 846”, as a pilot, with only a few agencies, or even parts of agencies, participating in the first phase. In addition, GSA is considering the viability of having only certain products covered during this phase. These statements, as well as significant comments from various industry panelists, comprised the bulk of the second industry day GSA has held on e-commerce implementation. Perhaps the most controversial part of the discussion was on plans to raise the Micro-Purchase threshold to $25,000. Some industry commenters have said that this is too large of an increase, and one that could disrupt established government buying methods. Matthew Blum of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, however, stated that the ability of government buyers to make small dollar acquisitions with only “three phone calls” is nothing new. The change still has to be approved by Congress, but it is clear that the government’s Section 846 implementation team is 100% behind the move. Scant mention was made of the potential ability for e-commerce portal acquisitions to be made up to the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, though GSA officials had mentioned it before. No significant new ground was broken on assuring the proper treatment of Ability One items, either, though most industry commenters believe that this is absolutely possible with the application of the correct technology. Next up is the July 20th deadline for portal providers and suppliers to respond to GSA’s two Requests for Information. The agency then expects to hold another industry day in the Fall. Stay tuned.