GSA’s eBuy Open First Pilot Will Increase Competition and Transparency

December 3, 2018

What is the eBuy Open GSA First Pilot?

The General Services Administration (GSA) recently rolled out a new one-year pilot program to test the effects of increased transparency in eBuy, GSA’s online RFQ system, on competition and other performance measures. Effective October 17, 2018, a test group comprised of GSA’s Office of Internal Acquisition and the FAS Region 7 Southwest Supply and Acquisition Center, uploaded details of every eBuy award for public viewing on FedBizOpps. Exceptions are orders on the Transportation, Delivery and Relocation (48), Hardware Superstore (51V), and Office Products/Supplies and Services (75) Schedules.

Why launch the pilot?

This GSA program is in response to numerous and long-standing requests from stakeholders and vendors without GSA contracts for increased transparency. The program will test how transparency would benefit research and decision-making for would-be contractors. Since information, such as what customers are buying and for how much, has never been publicly available, a vendor has no reliable way of deciding whether or not to get a schedule contract. Furthermore, the costly and timely process of obtaining one, in addition to the unknown risk of being unfit, discourages many smaller companies from considering a GSA schedule contract. This lack of competition can reduce access to new and innovative products and services.

Ultimately, Emily Murphy, Administrator of GSA, hopes that this pilot will contribute toward an increased number of GSA contractors competing for federal spending and fulfillment of her four priorities: better transparency, increased competition, ethical leadership, and reduced duplication.

Any problems?

On the flip side of the coin, existing vendors with GSA schedule contracts are concerned that more transparency can lead to poorer quality bids and more bid protests. Bid protests are lengthy and can lead to the loss of multi-million dollar contracts. The past two years have seen more bid protests filed than from 1998 to 2008 combined.

To conclude…

The eBuy Open GSA First Pilot is a precedent for changes to come—it is a step towards a more competitive and free market for federal spending.

For any questions, please contact Hope Lane or one of our GSA Schedules specialists at 301.231.6200.