GSA solicits wisdom of the crowd for acquisition improvements

Officials hope collaboration via social media will federal acquisition process more efficient

The General Services Administration has turned to the Web for help with a new acquisition: an innovative approach to procurement and drafting contract solicitations.

Officials released a request for information on a new Data.gov procurement, according a tweet this morning from GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM) and the BetterBuy Pilots Web page.

GSA wants a contractor to host a virtualized environment for Data.gov data sites and datasets to help its Office of Governmentwide Policy extend and improve its citizen-oriented services, according to the RFI.

GSA officials want input from the acquisition community on a requirement to provide a data repository for Data.gov. The Data.gov pilot program is ready to launch today, according to the BetterBuy Pilots Wiki home page.


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The second procurement is known as Clearpath. GSA is looking for comments on both the technical infrastructure for GSA’s Clearpath hosting and for developing the approach for a future acquisition. GSA will launch Clearpath in a few weeks, according to the page.

The crowdsourcing-approach to acquisition is a new avenue for GSA and the government overall. The approach comes from another crowdsourcing initiative called the Better Buy Project. The project sought comments from the acquisition community on how federal agencies can improve their acquisition processes, especially by using social media.

“The entire point of this exercise is to test out how we [can] use collaboration and social media to make the federal acquisition process more efficient and effective. This wiki, along with a new Twitter account to update status, is what GSA is testing out in phase one. We’ll have a few more things for the next phases,” according to the wiki page.

On the Better Buy Project Web site, participants supported using a wiki or other document sharing/editing tool to work out an acquisition’s requirements.

“We have to stop writing up the requirements via multiple draft documents sent around via e-mail,” wrote an anonymous contributor, who first proposed the idea. The wiki-based approach would decrease the amount of time from identifying a need to awarding the contract. “Multiple editors at one time equals efficiency,” the contributor wrote.

On the Data.gov RFI wiki page, a sidebar on the left of the page has links to the various sections of a traditional contract proposal. GSA officials want both help writing the draft solicitation and a technical debate in each section.

“Contribute! This is the most transparent acquisition that GSA FEDSIM has ever attempted,” the site states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 Mick K. WASH DC

Smarter, faster . . . probably so, but will it help to dam the flood of protests that follow every major contract bid/award effort?

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