Marine Corps enjoys Frictionless auctions

The U.S. Marine Corps is averaging about 25 percent savings since it recently began using Frictionless Commerce Inc.'s Sourcing software to do reverse auctions.

The Marines have done nine reverse auctions in the last six months, the last one this month. They are pleased with the savings and with an increase in the efficiency of their acquisition and sourcing processes, said Maj. Paul Mangum, director of the regional contracting office SW, MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Frictionless gave the Corps "nearly seamless" reverse auctioning capabilities by adding the service to a system that the Army and Air Force were already using at the Army's Communications-Electronics Command, said Eric Levin, vice president of marketing at the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

"Before, the [Marine Corps] weren't able to do it all," Levin said. "From time to time, they had tried different vendors on pilot programs, but they were looking for the right solution going forward in sourcing automation, and you need software" to do that.

Frictionless showed the Marines its Army and Air Force successes, focusing on the software's "auditability" and "best value" acquisitions, and the Corps quickly signed on, he said.

Frictionless Sourcing enables agencies to automate their entire sourcing process, from expenditure analysis through vendor management, all on the desktop. It takes vendors about 15 minutes to learn how to use the system. Government users need about 30 minutes to become familiar with the software, Levin said.

Strategic sourcing is a process that organizations use to more effectively buy materials and services from suppliers.

Frictionless is pursuing new government customers, most of whom learned about the product from other public sector users, Levin said. "The word-of-mouth [from the government customers] has been fantastic because we've done no marketing."

Levin said the reverse auctions with the Marines is the first phase of a program that will eventually have them using Frictionless tools to do best-value request for proposals and request for quotes, and ultimately end-to-end sourcing automation. Phase one should be completed at all the Corps' major purchasing commands within six months, he said.

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