GSA opens acquisition gateway to the public

GSA's acquisition gateway, as shown in an agency-produced demonstration video

GSA's acquisition gateway, as shown in an agency-produced demonstration video.

The General Services Administration opened its government-facing Acquisition Gateway portal to public users on Feb. 5, allowing contractors and industry acquisition professionals similar access to the aggregated acquisition data that federal acquisition workers now have.

"The public will have access to as much of the Acquisition Gateway as possible and will experience the same user-centric design as federal users," Tom Sharpe, commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said in a Feb. 2 statement. "The gateway will enable that access while protecting the integrity of critical federal data and the security of private information supplied by contractors and others."

GSA previewed the site for reporters and users in a Jan. 28 teleconference, providing a working run-through of some of its capabilities.  The gateway provides information on pricing, best practices covering acquisition and models on how to implement those practices -- all with an eye to helping federal program officers draft better requirements and federal contracting officers negotiate better contracts.

The portal incorporates user-centric features like "thumbs-up" (or -down) feedback on information; a "solution finder" that lets users enter what they're looking for and get a refined set of solutions tailored to those needs; a function that allows federal contracting personnel to "follow" more experienced workers through acquisitions; and the ability to create communities of users with similar challenges.

GSA officials had said previously that, when the gateway was opened to the public, certain proprietary information that could be used competitively by vendors would be masked in public views. It said its Freedom of Information Act Division, Office of General Counsel, and senior procurement executives from each agency that provided content for the gateway reviewed and confirmed that said content was appropriate for public posting.

 "Although the Acquisition Gateway's primary stakeholder is the federal user, publicity about the tool garnered attention from citizens, the media, industry, government contractors, third-party consultants, and state and local governments," Laura Stanton, acting director of strategy management for GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said in the same Feb. 5 GSA statement.

Contracts, community feeds, the eBuy Open  and the Prices Paid Portal that includes data on prices agencies are paying for commonly acquired items won't be visible to the public.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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