GSA tests crowdsourcing wiki for acquisitions

Collaborative BetterBuy Project being tested online

The General Services Administration is testing a crowdsourcing platform with its BetterBuy online acquisition wiki to get public comments about three upcoming cloud computing procurements.

GSA is considering a number of privacy and legal issues as it explores providing a more transparent and open Web 2.0 environment for acquisition, according to GSA officials who spoke at the Gov. 2.0 Expo on May 27.

The BetterBuy wiki is being used for open discussions about the upcoming procurements for Data.gov, a cloud e-mail system and the GSA ClearPath cloud infrastructure.

The GSA has posted requests for information on the site and wants public comment and ideas. Anyone can comment publicly on the wiki, and the comments are incorporated into documents. The wiki was launched in partnership with the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council and the National Academy for Public Administration.

Lisa Grant, the acquisition group manager, civilian sector, for GSA’s Federal Systems Integration Management Center, said the agency faced legal and technical hurdles in exploring the wiki application. GSA's goal was to develop new formats for getting hard-to-get market research and feedback and presenting information while also complying with all rules and regulations, she said.

“We had a discussion on protests and transparency, and making sure that no one has a competitive advantage" on the wiki, Grant said.

Even though GSA officials use Twitter for relaying news about the procurements, the tweets are mostly invitations for additional public comment, Grant said. If official information is provided, such as a change in a deadline, GSA supplements its tweets with an official publication.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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