Could GSA's e-Buy start a trend?

'This kind of transparency affects the entire schedule program because vendors can see what is out there.'

'OFPP adminstrator Angela Styles

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is assessing whether the General Services Administration's updated e-Buy portal could provide a model for a governmentwide procurement system.

The Integrated Acquisition Environment e-government project will closely follow
e-Buy's results. GSA last month relaunched the portal'a part of GSA Advantage'which now lets contracting officers and vendors interact more easily by improving the online request-for-quotes process for Federal Supply Service and other Multiple-Award Schedule opportunities.

Easy access

The new design puts all agency RFQs on a central site for vendors to review, clarifies how vendors are categorized, and lets contracting officers attach large documents and make line item awards on contracts to different companies.

GSA, which launched e-Buy in June of last year, hired Unisys Corp. for $300,000 to update the portal. E-Buy uses application server software from Broadvision Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., stores data in a database from Sybase Inc. of Dublin, Calif., and runs a search engine from Verity Inc. of Sunnyvale Calif.

Besides improving contractor and agency communications, e-Buy also could provide an answer to a number of other governmentwide online acquisition goals, such as increasing competition.
Angela Styles, OFPP administrator, said her office would track how the enhanced system spurs competition for FSS RFQs.

'This addresses a lot of the anticompetitive concern,' Styles said. 'This kind of transparency affects the entire schedule program because vendors can see what is out there.'

She said the system will help the Defense Department comply with Section 803 requirements, which call for contracting officers to obtain at least three quotes for any order from FSS. OFPP has not published the final 803 rule yet, but when it does, Styles said, the new e-Buy would make a difference.

Since the site went live June 15, 300 RFQs went out to an average of 10 vendors per opportunity, said Nancy Goode, director of the Office of Acquisition Operations and
E-commerce in GSA's Office of Acquisition.

Teresa Sorrenti, the Integrated Acquisition Environment project manager, said her team at GSA also is assessing Defense's

E-Mall and NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement program.

'We want to have some standardization of the data all of these portals require from both suppliers and contracting folks,' Sorrenti said. 'E-Buy could have governmentwide applicability depending on how similar its terms are with other governmentwide acquisition contracts and how other agency systems mesh with e-Buy.'

Sorrenti said the first deliverable for the e-government initiative is due in December. GSA is entering data from all three portals into an e-catalog prototype that will list all the GWACs and MAS contracts available from the sponsoring agencies. The final portal, which will include more than 80 GWACs, is scheduled for launch in September 2004.

'The initial thrust is to get the directory up so agencies can find GWAC vehicles easier,' Sorrenti said. Sorrenti said she was unsure how e-Buy would tie into the Integrated Acquisition Environment but could see using some of its enhancements.

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