GSA pilots small biz e-mall

To increase procurement opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, the General Services Administration has launched a pilot World Wide Web site called SmallBizMall.gov.

The pilot portal, at www.8amall.com, gives small businesses a location to fulfill orders via the Web and offers agencies a central location to find small business vendors, according to Sandra Bates, commissioner of the GSA's Federal Technology Service.

The site also gives government buyers the ability to comparison shop, receive quantity discounts, supply online account management and personalized accounts.

At an April 11 hearing of the House Small Business Committee's Government Programs Subcommittee, vendors and agency officials expressed concern that e-procurement and e-commerce practices may prohibit small businesses from competing for government contracts. But the new SmallBizMall.gov site, launched April 3, may help small businesses participate in the new electronic market.

"The SmallBizMall is an excellent concept," Bates said. "It's paving the way, using the technology we sell and promoting small business who are our partners for the future."

During the two-month pilot, nine industry partners who hold multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts for FTS' Solutions Development Center for Small Business in Kansas City, Mo., will participate in the program. In June, FTS plans to invite more than 164 small businesses to participate in the program governmentwide.

Small businesses offering the following services will be included on the Web site in June:

    * Business process improvement.

    * Cabling and wiring.

    * Database and database management.

    * Distance learning.

    * Engineering.

    * E-commerce.

    * Independent validation and verification.

    * Information technology hardware.

    * Integration.

    * Internet/intranet/Web development.

    * Migration.

    * Software/software development.

    * Systems applications and support.

    * Training.

    * Videoconferencing.

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