Reverse auctions move forward
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Aug 03, 2000
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and other agencies have thrown
their weight behind the use of online reverse auctions to purchase goods
and services in government.
"I think it's wonderful you're trying [reverse auctions]," said Ken
Oscar, acting director of OFPP at a conference on Wednesday sponsored by
the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service. Reverse
auctions, which allow sellers to bid down the price of a product or service,
provide agencies with another "tool" in their purchasing toolbox, Oscar
Vendors who have participated in a reverse auction "think that it's
good" and "fair," Oscar said, adding that even the losing vendors felt the
process was inclusive.
Meanwhile, OFPP plans to issue guidance to "sharpen up" the Federal
Acquisition Regulation regarding reverse auctions, such as clarifying the
time and date for when a bid is due, Oscar said.
The Navy, Army and U.S. Postal Service are among the agencies that have
already tried online reverse auctions, and the Air Force plans to conduct
its first this week. The Navy conducted its first online reverse auction
May 5 and found it was a useful "price-leverage tool," said Rear Adm. Bill
Jenkins Jr., deputy for acquisition business management at the Navy.
FTS organized Wednesday's event to garner support for its own auction
plans, which include a six-month pilot with nine vendors to test the reverse
auction concept. Manny DeVera, director of GSA's FTS IT Solutions Regional
Services Center, said he is close to signing agencies for the pilot.
Sandra Bates, FTS commissioner, said that although reverse auctions
may not be for everybody, they do have a place. Agencies should "dare to
be great," she said. "I think we owe it to our customers to think outside