GSA readies online auction site

The General Services Administration hopes to launch an online auction site by next month that will make it easier for government agencies to buy information technology products.

GSA detailed to vendors on Friday how it plans to create its buyers.gov site (http://buyers.gov). The site initially will offer three approaches to selling computer hardware and software to agencies:

    * A private buyer auction in which an agency would post a solicitation for IT commodities and vendors would respond with quotes.

    * A reverse auction, eFast volume purchasing, that would allow multiple agencies interested in buying the same product to pool their orders into a single large buy to drive down the price.

    * QuickQuotes, which offers the services of an electronic store to buyers who want to shop for a specific IT commodity.

To make buyers.gov a reality, GSA plans to use the existing services of a few vendors, including ACS Government Solutions Group Inc., which recently teamed with SupplierMarket.com and VolumeBuy Inc. to develop a reverse auction site for government users. Mercata Inc. and FreeMarkets Inc. also offer similar services.

Vendors that participate in the eFast reverse auction most likely will have a GSA schedule or existing government contract, said Manny DeVera, director of GSA's Federal Technology Service IT Solutions Regional Services Center. However, vendors that participate in the private auction do not necessarily have to have a government contract and can participate in full and open competition, he said.

"We feel the biggest challenge is encouraging buyers to feel comfortable with this," DeVera said.

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