OFPP promotes online procurement services

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is encouraging agencies to use reverse auctions, online vendor catalogs and other commercial electronic procurement services to improve their buying efficiencies.

Rob Burton, acting OFPP administrator, said in a recent memo to agency procurement executives 'these tools have become more efficient, readily available, cost-effective and verifiable.'

Burton added that these online commercial services 'generally result in savings for the taxpayer,' and enhance opportunities for small businesses.

'Some of this is common sense,' Burton said in an interview. 'Some agencies are reluctant to do it because the services are new and innovative. We are trying to encourage agencies to take a look at it, but we are not mandating it.'

Burton said reverse auctions, for instance, could ensure agencies receive competitive prices because vendors' prices drop as the auction continues.

The General Services Administration's Reverse Auctions Services office has performed more than 24 contests since 2000, and has contracted with four companies to host the auctions for federal agencies. The Navy, GSA and the Treasury Department are among agencies that have successfully used reverse auctions.

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