OFPP, acquisition chiefs to study e-procurement

The federal government again will review the advantages and disadvantages of online procurement services.

In a memo to the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council, Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of the Federal Procurement Policy, asked that a working group review the regulations, policies and business considerations with using commercially available online procurement services.

'We are especially interested in agency procurement personnel with specific expertise in using creative procurement services,' Denett said.

The fiscal 2007 Defense Department Authorization Act required OFPP and the council to review online procurement services, such as reverse auctioning, to determine the types of products and services that would be suitable for these apps, and the features that these programs should provide agencies.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry association in Washington, said this provision likely was written for a few specific companies that perform these services and don't want the government as competition. These include the General Services Administration's GSA Advantage and DOD's E-Mall, for instance.

'I know there are companies that have a problem with them that they are unfair government competition when there is a readily available alternative,' Allen said. 'There has been this cry for 10 years now. I don't think it's inappropriate to look. The government should see what is out there and how the state of technology has evolved over the last decade.'

Allen added that the concern among vendors has been that the government doesn't charge them to use these systems, but a private-sector firm likely would. The companies that run these services also could give preferential treatment to certain vendors for a fee, Allen said.

Denett wants the working group to:
  • Compile lessons learned from agency procurements that used online services
  • Create and issue an OFPP best practices guide
  • Develop a model requirements document to support acquisitions for these services
  • Draft possible changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations that would be needed to increase the use of these services
  • Obtain information from he private sector on their use of these services.

Agencies must submit their representative to the working group by Oct. 31. The working group will meet periodically over the next three or four months starting in November, Denett said.

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