In June 2020, the General Services Administration launched an initial e-commerce portal proof-of-concept with the award of three contracts to e-marketplace platform providers for purchases below the micro-purchase threshold of $10,000.
As GSA noted in announcing the proof-of-concept, the contract awards were “part of implementation efforts for the Commercial Platforms program and Section 846 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.” GSA should be commended for its proof-of-concept strategy, as it is prudent to obtain real-life metrics on how the e-marketplace platforms work in the context of government procurement.
The e-marketplace proof-of-concept provides GSA and Office of Management and Budget the opportunity to collect procurement data that can be used both to assess current market performance and to develop future strategies that enhance access to, and competition across, the commercial market.
These e-marketplace contracts, however, should be the first step in implementation of an overall e-commerce portal strategy to access the commercial market for e-commerce solutions that meet customer agency needs. As GSA noted in its April 2019 Procurement Through Commercial E-Commerce Portals, Phase II Report: Market Research & Consultation,
GSA will start with the e-marketplace model (one of the three models identified in the Phase I report) for this initial proof of concept while continuing to assess opportunities to leverage the benefits of other commercial e-commerce portal models.
Phase II Report at 3:
Although GSA’s e-marketplace proof-of-concept prompted some questions and concern regarding the potential role the e-commerce and e-procurement models would play in the overall strategy, the agency clearly indicated that, under its plan, there would be future opportunities to assess the role and performance of these other e-commerce models. Indeed, GSA stated: