Federal agencies spent about $260 million online last year for products and services, and the U.S. General Services Administration is seeking input from providers of B2B e-marketplace platforms to help them better manage that spending.

Calling all providers of electronic marketplace platforms: the U.S. General Services Administration wants your help in managing how government personnel spend hundreds of millions of dollars online for products and services.

The GSA last week issued a request for proposals from “e-marketplace portal providers meeting the business-to-business requirements of the proof-of-concept” for its Commercial Platforms program. That program “seeks to modernize how commercial products are bought via the open market by federal agencies through partnerships with commercial ecommerce platform providers, while helping our agency partners gain better visibility and insights into their online spend,” the GSA said.

The RFP addresses the “requirement for multiple commercial e-marketplace platforms that can provide business-to-business (B2B) delivery and process orders made by various Federal entities via the Government Purchase Card.”

The GSA, which oversees how federal government agencies procure and manage products and services, said it expects to begin implementation of the proof-of-concept early next year and to “start small” with a subset of participating federal agencies to test, refine and ultimately grow the Commercial Platforms program “based on the lessons learned.”

The solicitation for RFPs is available here; proposals are due by 5 p.m. Eastern time, Nov. 1. Companies must submit proposals electronically to GSA officials Dominic Lackey or Sarah Duncan, at [email protected] and [email protected].

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The government is accepting questions regarding the solicitation until 10 a.m. Eastern time, Oct. 15; companies can submit questions via this link for posting on FedBizOpps.gov, or FBO.gov.

Going online to control $260 million in spending

“As federal procurement continues to evolve, simplifying how we purchase basic commodities will allow agencies to focus more on work that directly serves their missions,” Emily Murphy, the administrator of the GSA, said last week. “Federal agencies spent approximately $260 million using online portals last year, and it is critical that we use the Commercial Platforms program to better understand and manage this spend.”

The Commercial Platforms program is one of four initiatives of the GSA’s Federal Marketplace Strategy, its overall plan to “modernize and simplify the buying and selling experience for customers, suppliers and acquisition professionals” involved in federal procurement efforts. “We want to ensure the federal marketplace experience of tomorrow is even better than it is today,” the GSA says.

The other three initiatives involve:

  • The consolidation of multiple contract award schedules, or MAS;
  • The contract acquisition life-cycle management program, or CALM; and
  • Catalog management.

Regarding the MAS initiative, last week the GSA also released its solicitation for “consolidating and streamlining” its existing 24 multiple award schedules into a single schedule for “products, services and solutions.”

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“This is an important first step toward our goal of simplifying the experience for customers, suppliers and GSA’s acquisition workforce,” Murphy said.

For now, the GSA said, the MAS program will place only new contracts on the consolidated schedule; existing contracts will join the consolidated schedule next year. “Federal agencies should see no disruptions to their purchasing practices during the transition,” the GSA says.

Eliminating duplicate contracts

“MAS Consolidation will mean many changes to the way we do business—some small, some large, but all with the goal of providing consistency in the program for all stakeholders and making it easier for customers to find total solutions under one contract vehicle,” Alan Thomas, commissioner of the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said last week. He added that the program is designed to eliminate duplicate contracts. (Thomas also announced last week that he is retiring from the GSA to join private industry, according to reports in fedscoop and other publications covering the federal government.)

With the CALM program, the GSA is working to streamline contract acquisitions across multiple areas, including global supply chains and technology transformation services.

In the catalog management initiative, the GSA is focusing on improving “how we manage data associated with more than 50 million products and services offered to buyers from federal agencies, including items offered through the agency’s GSA Advantage marketplace at GSAAdvantage.gov.

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