Letter to the editor
I feel compelled to write after reading the fluff piece on the General Services Administration auction Web site on Page 18 of your Feb. 5, 2001, edition ["Bids flow to GSA auction Web site"].
It only took GSA a year and a million dollars to do what any private citizen could have done in one hour at a cost of $2 or $3.
Is this really "reinventing government" when bureaucrats fail to take full advantage of what is available commercially and insist on deploying a government-designed "clone" Web site? Former Vice President Al Gore's "golden hammer" could be put to good use in dealing with these decision-makers (the Federal Supply Service commissioners).
The agency I work for (the Defense Contract Management Agency) made a conscious decision not to "team" with GSA and is selling excess/surplus government property on existing private-domain auction Web sites (usually eBay). Our first auction on eBay was more than a year ago. We only list and sell items with commercial applications. (At this point in time, "military" and "haz mat" materials are still disposed of via traditional methods.)
The fees charged by GSA are more than 10 times the fees charged by eBay, and the base of potential GSA "bidders" is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of eBay clients.
Unless use of the site is mandated for disposal of all excess/surplus federal property, I doubt GSA would cover the cost of maintaining its auction site, let alone recover any of the "upfront" costs to develop and launch the site.
This is one more example of why GSA has outlived its reason for existing. In the present (and future?) business world, most of what it does probably could be accomplished more economically and efficiently by individual federal agencies.
Name withheld upon request