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RFI Feedback and Themes

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve made our way through over 700 pages of comments that more than 50 of you submitted across our two Requests for Information.

 

As a quick recap, GSA and the Office of Management and Budget issued two RFIs soliciting information from suppliers selling on commercial e-commerce portals and from providers of commercial e-commerce portals. Questions asked of suppliers were grouped around three focus areas: product categories, terms and conditions, and program design. Whereas, questions asked of providers were grouped around six focus areas— spending trends, data standards, user experience, cybersecurity,  terms and conditions and proof of concept design. These RFIs were issued to help inform our deliverable for Phase II of the requirements enacted in Section 846 of the NDAA for FY 2018, Procurement Through Commercial e-Commerce Portals.

 

I’d like to share some of key themes that emerged from your comments.  

 

- The platform should offer a simple, clear user experience, including easy access for a broad supplier base, business analytics, powerful universal search, compliance and oversight, and delivery assurance.

 

- A small set of federal government terms and conditions should be added to the existing standard commercial terms with consideration given to:

  • small business and socioeconomic community participation (noting there are also challenges to getting this data),
  • fee transparency, and
  • addressing data ownership, security and usage concerns.

- We should include product categories that are frequently purchased by many agencies with standard units of issue, excluding complex items and those presenting large supply chain risks (e.g. IT, medical).  The most cited categories include office management & furniture, industrial products and facility related materials. There was also support for ‘specialized marketplaces’ for niche categories of products that may have special requirements or require in-depth product knowledge.

- Fee structures will need to be transparent and visible to all because of the wide variety of fee models that exist in the commercial e-commerce space -- ranging from no fees to seller-assessed per transaction fees to monthly subscription fees for buyers.

- A Proof of Concept should 1) test the user experience and functionality that is ultimately envisioned; 2) include participation from a diverse group of agency buyers; and 3.) collect the data in order to understand spending trends as well as to assess unintended consequences.

- Specific FAR clauses are inapplicable to current commercial practices for e-commerce platforms and should not be considered for commercial platforms include:

  • 52.212-4(n), Title
  • 52.222-17, Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers
  • 52.212-4(b), Assignment of claims
  • 52.212-4(k), Taxes
  • 52.212-4(q), Other compliances
  • 52.204-10, Reporting Executive Compensation and First-Tier Subcontract Awards
  • 52.212-3(t), Public Disclosure of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reduction Goals
  • 52-212-4(f), Excusable Delays

- Data protection tools should be considered, such as encryption, certifications, automated security tools, etc.

- Portal providers saw GSA’s role as working with agencies to establish protocols and safeguards, vetting suppliers, negotiating contracts with portal providers, safeguarding acquisition data, ensuring a level playing field, and assuring compliance with laws and regulations.  

- Suppliers saw GSA’s role as heavily focused on monitoring compliance. Common themes included pricing, AbilityOne essentially-the-same items, trade agreements, and small business set-asides. Suppliers also saw a role for GSA in managing data, as well as monitoring portal provider and supplier performance.  

As I look across the feedback received, the truly dynamic nature of the e-commerce landscape is evident. The comments received via these RFIs will help to inform how we utilize commercial practices as we think about our options for a proof of concept. I want to thank the suppliers and portal providers who responded for sharing their insights and recommendations. Your ongoing engagement and collaboration is key to the implementation of this effort.

 

Laura

 

Laura Stanton

Assistant Commissioner, FAS Office of Enterprise Strategy Management

 
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