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Commercial Platforms and the E-Marketplace Model


Time has gone quickly since we last updated this Interact group a few weeks ago with information regarding the phase 2 implementation plan. I’m pleased to report that we’re hard at work on the draft solicitation for the initial proof of concept, and have plans to release it via FedBizOpps by the end of June. This solicitation targets the portal provider community, and will include opportunities for further stakeholder engagement. We will continue to use this Interact group to provide status updates.

As we look toward implementation, I want to expand upon the use of the e-marketplace model as a starting point for this test. As you may recall, the e-marketplace model is one of three models identified in the phase 1 implementation plan. Throughout phase 2, GSA conducted stakeholder outreach and engagement and came to the conclusion that the e-marketplace model is an ideal and best fit as a starting point for this initial proof of concept. Both the e-procurement and e-commerce models also have highly beneficial capabilities and we look forward to assessing those throughout implementation of the proof of concept.  

In arriving at this decision, GSA looked at several factors to evaluate the different business models, including:

  • Competition - How are we fostering the most competition across portals and for buyers?  
  • User Experience - Does the user experience represent something that is familiar, and to quote Section 846, represents something that is widely used in the commercial sector?
  • Applicability to micro-purchase threshold buys - Given that most of these purchases are conducted on the open-market, does the platform reflect that type of simplified buying experience with enhanced visibility and benefits to the government?
  • Complexity / Cost to Implement - How hard and how expensive will this be for GSA to implement?     

The e-marketplace model encourages robust competition not only at the supplier level by offering millions of products across thousands of suppliers, but also at the product level, with multiple suppliers competing to sell a given product. The competition is further strengthened when multiple e-marketplace providers participate, which is a GSA requirement for the initial proof of concept. With multiple e-marketplaces, suppliers will have the ability to choose which e-marketplace best aligns with their business practices. The e-marketplace model also keeps the user experience as close to existing commercial practice as possible for the portal providers, suppliers, and buyers by not requiring significant configuration of existing platforms or processes. By starting with an agile approach, GSA can innovate in a manageable way while minimizing costs.

Given the dynamic nature of this environment, GSA has decided to launch an initial proof of concept in the short term, start small, test and refine, and then move forward from there. This view has been validated by interested agencies that are eager for a “whole of government” approach. The “whole of government” approach offers benefits of leveraged buying, broader data, and common terms and conditions.

I’m excited to move ahead to the implementation phase for the initial proof of concept. Together, with our varied stakeholders, we have the potential to not only create a modern buying experience but also reduce the burden for agency partners and suppliers alike.

Thank you for your continued support and engagement.





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Commercial Platforms 101 briefing

Overview briefing of the Commercial Platforms initiative


Implementation Plan and Policy Assessment -
Phase I Deliverable to Congress (March 2018)


Market Research and Consultation

Phase II Deliverable to Congress (April 2019)


Directing Legislation:

Section 846 legislation (directing language)

Section 838 (amendment to Section 846)


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