GSA, OMB HAVE YET TO ANSWER TOUGH QUESTIONS ON COMMERCIAL E-COMMERCE SOLUTIONS
Will products sold through commercial e-commerce portals be subject to the Buy American (BAA) or Trade Agreements Act (TAA)? How will GSA ensure secure supply chains and the provision of products by authorized sources? Is the proposed $25,000 purchase ceiling too high to ensure that agencies get good prices and make good acquisition decisions? These were among the questions asked to GSA representatives at last week’s Coalition for Government Procurement Spring Conference. There were few concrete answers beyond GSA’s commitment to “transparency” and “dialog”. Yet, these questions absolutely must be answered if both government agencies and federal contractors are to make smart business decisions about whether and how to use commercial e-commerce portals. The smaller dollar transactions contemplated by this project suggest that the Buy American Act would apply, unless GSA issued an exemption, or applied the TAA threshold across the project, as it does with the Schedules program. Ensuring secure supply chains is absolutely essential as cyber experts believe that supply chain infiltration is one good way to disrupt a cyber-secure perimeter. The $25,000 limit is being openly questioned in the legal community, some of whom point out that there is no information yet on the impact of a $10,000 micro-purchase cap. A $25K limit, they fear, may be going into deeper water too soon. GSA will hold another industry day on June 21st and, while that day will be primarily for the agency to listen, it may want to begin by addressing some of these questions.