Coast Guard on deck with auction

The General Services Administration is taking reverse auctions for a second

test flight on Nov. 16.

The Coast Guard's Aircraft Repair and Supply Center will use the auction

to buy Falcon Jet aircraft parts. The center plans to make an award two

weeks from the auction date.

In the first pilot, in May, the Navy bought parts for ejection seats

in fighter jets.

Bob Suda, assistant commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service

Office of Information Technology Integration, sees the reverse auction pilots

as a way to learn lessons about e-procurement.

"The front process is great for the customer, but the back office — as far as the accounting — is the piece we still need to solve," Suda said.

The first auction was based on achieving the best price, he said, but

the Coast Guard will seek the best value, "so we don't know how it will

all play out."

Federal regulations that guide procurement are not left out of reverse

auctions, as some might think, said Ted Carter, director of public sector

for FreeMarkets Inc., the company conducting reverse auctions for GSA.

"One thing that people confuse reverse auctions with is that they think

it obviates and aggregates the process," Carter said. "The [request for

proposal] is still in play."

It is the up to the government to ensure all its requirements to meet

federal acquisition regulations are met; FreeMarkets gathers qualified suppliers

and facilitates the online bidding process, he said.

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