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Commercial Platforms Update


Summer greetings from the Commercial Platforms team! 


As many of you are aware, the draft solicitation for the initial Commercial Platforms proof of concept was posted to FedBizOpps (FBO) for review and public comment on July 2, 2019 and will remain open through August 1st, 2019. While this information is geared toward portal providers, I would encourage all interested stakeholders to review this document. Responses to questions received thus far can be found on FBO, as of July 29th. The next major acquisition milestone for the program will be the release of the final solicitation for the proof of concept, slated to occur near the end of Q4, FY2019. 


The release of this draft solicitation represents an important step forward toward the implementation of the proof of concept in early 2020. As such, I think it is a good time to review again why we are starting with an initial proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms  


Conducting a pilot test or proof of concept aligns well with GSA’s innovation model. We are looking to promote innovation by challenging the known, encouraging ideas, all while engaging in active listening with industry. To do this, a proof of concept allows us to carefully vet and select initial participants, build guardrails to manage risk and conduct regular check-ins with defined metrics to evaluate along the way. Throughout the implementation of the proof of concept, we’re looking at the policy needed to support this environment, while also providing the necessary training and support to our partner agencies. 


By using a proof of concept for the Commercial Platforms program, GSA is able to start testing implementation of the program with a small group of interested agencies and utilize actual purchase and spend data to analyze results and then refine the program approach as lessons are learned. This allows us to test an innovative purchasing channel while also mitigating risk before developing the next phase of the program. 


In the phase 2 implementation plan, GSA provided details regarding its decision to use the e-marketplace model as the starting point for the initial proof of concept, while also assessing the capabilities and benefits of the e-procurement and e-commerce models. I would encourage you to review our recent and more detailed Interact post regarding the e-marketplace model. With some agencies already moving out and adopting individual commercial e-marketplace platforms, GSA sees these other efforts as further bifurcating the market. By launching the initial proof of concept utilizing the e-marketplace model in early 2020, GSA offers a way for agencies to access the e-marketplace platforms as part of a whole-of-government approach (as envisioned as a part of the original Section 846 legislation) and create greater value for the agencies and buyers as cited below. 


As we look ahead to implementation, what does GSA see as the overarching value to agencies, buyers and suppliers for this proof of concept? 


Modernizing the commercial product buying experience.

GSA intends to partner with commercial e-commerce providers to modernize the buying experience, by adopting attributes and features of today’s commercial platforms. This includes capabilities such as in-depth product content and product reviews to aid in market research; dynamic pricing and price comparisons to ensure competitive pricing; and order status and delivery tracking as part of the post-purchase process.


Simplifying and streamlining commercial item purchasing to allow agencies time to focus on mission-oriented acquisition.

Commercial platforms offer capabilities and features that will further streamline how federal agencies buy commercial products. This will result in agencies being able to meet mission needs faster and easier, while also ensuring compliance with existing MPT rules in a competitive pricing environment. Partnerships with commercial platforms to streamline low-dollar purchases will enable contracting professionals more time to focus on complex, high dollar actions. 


Analyzing commercial item spend data to allow for better buying decisions.

Access to more granular commercial item spend data will present new opportunities to manage buying decisions under the existing micro-purchase threshold of $10,000.  Agencies will be able to use this spend data to gain additional insights into where that spend is going and more importantly, opportunities when it comes to socioeconomic, small business, and other purchasing groups. Data has consistently been one of the key drivers of this effort when talking with agency stakeholders. 


Overall, the implementation of this proof of concept will yield valuable lessons learned and data insights that will provide an important foundation for the program. This is an exciting time. By implementing through a proof of concept, GSA will be able to grow the program in a more informed manner, with the potential to modernize the government buying experience in a way that responsibly and appropriately reflects how we buy in our own “consumer” lives.   


I look forward to your continued engagement and support, and appreciate the feedback received thus far to help further the program. 




Laura Stanton

Deputy Assistant Commissioner, FAS ITC Category Management



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Commercial Platforms landing page 


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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