GAO has raised a series of questions to be addressed as GSA and OMB move into the next phase of the e-commerce program, meant to provide a simpler, faster and cost-efficient method for agencies to purchase commercial products valued under certain thresholds.
The initial phase described three models that could be used, alone or in combination. In one, product vendors sell their products directly through their own portals; in a second, one vendor runs a portal selling its products and third parties can offer their products through it as well; in the third, a company provides only a portal for sales by others.
GAO raised questions for consideration including how will the portals program impact existing procurement programs, how will the portals program operate within the current procurement framework, how will data be obtained on purchases through the e-commerce portal, how will GSA and OMB measure the progress of the e-commerce portals program during its early implementation phases, and what metrics will be used.
GAO did not make specific recommendations but noted that GSA officials acknowledge that “they still have many issues to address as they move forward.” These include “the impacts of implementing the different models on competition, data transparency, and user experience, among other things.”