GSA drums up e-Buy excitement

GSA e-Buy

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The General Services Administration's e-Buy acquisition portal has received plenty of interest from agencies, but vendors have been slower to take advantage of the system.

GSA's Federal Supply Service launched e-Buy in June as a way for agencies to post requests for quotations for products and solutions from FSS schedule contracts. Agencies also can use the portal to receive quotes online from chosen vendors.

In addition to streamlining the RFQ process, many experts were excited by the idea that all vendors, even those not picked by the agency, would be able to view the e-Buy requests.

In its first four months, agencies have posted more than 2,300 RFQs on the portal, according to Tim Dempsey, a supply systems analyst with the e-Buy program. He was speaking Dec. 3 at a conference sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association.

However, industry excitement over the system seems to be lower than expected, Dempsey said. About 48 percent of the posted RFQs have received no quotes from vendors, and GSA is not entirely sure why, he said.

GSA is pleased by agency interest in e-Buy, especially because it is still a new system. Officials are also hoping that the system will make it easier for small companies to find and bid on federal business, said Patricia Mead, deputy assistant commissioner of FSS' Office of Acquisition.

The White House, particularly Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, has been pushing for agencies to use e-Buy to promote competition.

And with e-Buy being endorsed as a tool for the Defense Department to comply with Section 803, a congressional mandate requiring competition on multiple award contracts, "we're expecting to have a lot...of new activity from DOD customers," Dempsey said.

GSA plans to hold several user forums in late January to talk to agency and vendor representatives, first separately and then together, about what is and isn't working in the system, Dempsey said.

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