GSA makes auction bid

The General Services Administration is testing the power of the marketplace

with a reverse auction pilot that will allow government buyers to drive

down the prices of goods by purchasing them online.

GSA selected nine companies — large, small and woman-owned — to participate

in a six-month program to see how government buyers can save money by participating

in online auctions instead of traditional government procurements.

"The technology is allowing us to do volume purchasing, and for the

first time, the government can do this on a real-time basis," said Manny

DeVera, director of GSA's Federal Technology Service IT Solutions Regional

Services Center.

The pilot, to be launched this month, will be available on buyers.gov, a

World Wide Web site being set up by Seta Corp., which is a small business

serving as the portal and host for the program.

"The intent of this program is to test the feasibility of a government-

sponsored system for electronic commerce," said Christopher Wren, a technology

officer at GSA. "What we're trying to do is create a soup-to-nuts system."

The companies in the pilot are:

* ACS Federal.

* CIS Global, a small, woman-owned business.

* Electronic Data Systems Corp.

* FreeMarkets Inc.

* Frictionless Commerce Inc.

* KPMG LLC.

* Mobshop Inc.

* Oracle Corp.

* Spectrum International.

Reverse auctions are becoming the rage in the private sector. DeVera

hopes they will catch on in government as well to speed the sale of computer

hardware and software to agencies and make it easier for agencies to buy

information technology products at lower costs.

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