DESPITE FED BID WOES, DON’T EXPECT REVERSE AUCTIONS TO DISAPPEAR
There’s no way around it, we must admit that there was a palpable feeling of schadenfreude around the government contracting community last week on news that the Air Force has suspended, and is moving to debar, reverse auction firm FedBid. While contractors have complained about a lack of transparency in FedBid’s operations for many years, feds now apparently share similar concerns. Don’t write the obituary on reverse auctions in government procurement just yet, though. The fact is that this tool existed before FedBid and will likely continue to be used no matter what happens to any one company. GSA, for instance, has its own reverse auction program. The larger issue with reverse auctions isn’t that they’re an ill-advised acquisition method, it’s that they’ve been applied to scenarios that just aren’t a good fit. At best, FedBid’s troubles can be a teachable moment about when and where various procurement methods may be more suitable than others. Industry should play no small part in this education effort. The real difference now is that contractors have a powerful new example of what can happen when the wrong tool is used for the wrong job.