President signs online marketplaces bill—now what?

 By Jeff Ellinpgovernment procurementort, division counsel, and Steve Charles, co-founder

The FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by President Trump earlier this

month, not only authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense and military services, but it also includes a provision that will change the way the private sector sells many commercial products to the federal government. It could have a dramatic effect on future supplier go-to-market plans.

As the General Services Administration develops its plan to implement this legislation, the time is now for OEMs to speak up about how they want to see this part of their public sector channel evolve. The next opportunity will be Jan. 9 at GSA’s first public meeting on this issue. But first, a little bit on the impact of this change.

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Are commercial online marketplaces in the government’s future?

By Steve Charles, immixGroup co-founder

Proposed legislation out of the House Armed Services Committee would give the Department of Defense and other federal agencies the ability to buy commercial items (COTS) via online marketplaces without contracting officers having to determine price reasonableness before ordering. To make sure prices paid are competitive at the time, the marketplaces would provide all kinds of data to the government, including posted prices for similar, competitive items on the system at the time of sale. Suppliers would be able to update pricing in real-time.

DOD has long complained about GSA Schedule contracts, as well as GSA’s online marketplace, GSA Advantage, arguing that it’s not a real marketplace.  Product catalogs are not current, pricing is not maintained in real-time and many of the contractors lack strategic relationships with the manufacturers of the products represented.  Agencies put in orders on GSA Advantage, only to learn two weeks later that those ordered items are not actually available. Even people at GSA have told me that it’s much more reliable and cheaper for them to leverage the micro-purchase rules and use commercial shopping sites.

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