GSA Provides E-Commerce Update

GSA Provides E-Commerce Update

(FEBRUARY 14, 2019) - One month before it is due to submit a report to Congress on its federal e-commerce marketplace initiative, the US General Services Administration (GSA) has given feedback on comments it received after last December’s Industry Day.

There were concerns following the Industry Day that the GSA was heading down a path that would favour an Amazon Business-type marketplace model and potentially shut out other e-commerce solutions. In an update on the GSA website, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laura Stanton has at least demonstrated that her agency is listening to these concerns.

She outlined five key themes that had emerged following a request for information that was issued in early December and from feedback received from the Industry Day. One of these themes was competition, where Stanton wrote that the message received by the GSA was: “GSA should not limit the proof of concept to just the e-marketplace model and should ensure competition across the various models, with both portal providers and suppliers.”

Stanton also revealed that there were “diverging views” between portal providers and suppliers on the question of data protection. The current statutory language prohibits portal providers from using third-party sales and customer data for their own commercial benefit, something that probably won’t sit well with the current commercial practices of some e-commerce marketplaces.

“As I look across all the feedback received, the truly dynamic and complex nature of the e-commerce landscape is evident,” Stanton added. “The insights and recommendations shared are critical to the development of this program.”

One of the takeaways from the Industry Day was that the GSA wanted to press ahead with a proof of concept that would be relatively straightforward to implement, hence its preference for an existing marketplace platform solution. Now, after acknowledging the complexities involved in the program, it will be interesting to see what recommendations the GSA makes in its forthcoming report to Congress, due in mid-March. (OPI)