This column changed into at first published on Roger Waldron’s weblog at The Coalition for Government Procurement and changed into republished here with permission from the writer.
The circulate to e-trade solutions predicted by means of segment 846 of the fiscal yr 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) represents the most consequential procurement coverage change in technology. As we technique, the deadline for the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Phase II document, this week’s blog examines the organization’s precise possibility to leverage e-commerce to growth first-class price deliverables, foster monetary increase and make bigger federal customers’ get entry to commercial solutions.
In latest boards, GSA has indicated that the precept value of its a couple of award schedules (MAS) application is providing federal clients with equipped access to compliant merchandise at “competitive” fees. Indeed, numerous current research confirmed the program’s effectiveness through comparisons with opportunity industrial platforms. These researchers noted that GSA gives notably decrease pricing and quicker, less expensive delivery for its clients than the commercial alternatives to which they are in comparison. Notwithstanding the numerous tested blessings of the MAS program, the program’s e-trade platform GSA Advantage!, does no longer enjoy favorable critiques for its user interface.
Consequently, this system appears to be hindering GSA from maximizing the capacity of the MAS application. By investing in sources and leveraging business abilities to improve the usability of GSA Advantage!, GSA may want to create a considerable opportunity for financial growth and increased get admission to quality-cost solutions for federal customers.
Another extensive opportunity for GSA to leverage e-trade could be enlargement of the scope of its Section 846 pilot application. As you can don’t forget, in its Phase I file, GSA identified three ability sorts of e-commerce portal fashions:
In its recent request for information (RFI), GSA restrained its proposed pilot to best this sort of portal provider models, the so-called “e-market version.” According to GSA, the e-market model may additionally offer the portal company’s proprietary merchandise and products from 1/3-birthday celebration companies, or in some cases most effective the latter. By artificially and unilaterally narrowing the focal point of the Section 846 pilot, this approach has generated concerns concerning its consistency with statutory requirements and its effect on competition within the federal marketplace. Moreover, by now not absolutely exploring all commercial e-trade solutions, GSA risks proscribing possibilities for systems that don’t fall in the e-market model.
Specifically, pursuant to Section 846, GSA is answerable for establishing the protocols and policies governing the usage of business e-trade platforms. By narrowing its recognition to best one model within the business marketplace, GSA’s technique increases significant questions on whether the enterprise can appropriately set up protocols and rules that would accommodate the precise aspects of the industrial e-commerce systems that aren’t blanketed within the e-market model.
GSA may want to create similarly possibilities by making use of the phrases and situations of the Section 846 pilot’s contracts to address capacity inconsistencies between industrial systems and federal regulation and/or policy. For instance, Section 846, as well as Section 838, of the fiscal 2019 NDAA, offer precise protections related to the use of facts, consisting of an unequivocal prohibition on portal carriers the use of provider transaction information for his or her own aggressive purposes. For suppliers, these protections are seriously essential as this statistics may want to yield a vast gain for any portal provider that still gives its own merchandise inside its portal.
In addition, as stated in a prior blog, GSA has to recognize and address the effect that expenses, commissions, or other marketplace-affecting phrases and situations have at the over-arching first-rate interests of the authorities. Not only do these fees risk bad fee impacts, but additionally they could discourage competition, small business participation and authorities access to modern solutions. Moreover, capacity inconsistencies among the terms and conditions of portal providers and federal regulation and/or policy — which include Most Favored Nation (MFN) pricing provisions — danger proscribing possibilities through reducing competition, growing costs and discouraging participation inside the federal marketplace for small, medium, and large businesses. Thus, it would be an unfortunate twist if, what commenced as an effort to grow government get right of entry to innovation, led to a decrease in such access.
In precise, as we method, the discharge of the Phase II file, GSA’s community of industry companions may be eagerly looking to see if the company, in reality, will leverage e-commerce to maximize possibilities for the financial boom, best-fee deliverables, and patron get admission to e-GSA commercial answers.
Roger Waldron is the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement and host of Off the Shelf on Federal News Network.