Four get GSA's $20 million reverse-auction contract

Four companies have won a General Services Administration contract to conduct online reverse auctions for federal agencies. The auction service will be available through GSA's www.buyers.gov Web site.

The winners are B2E Markets Inc. of Rockville, Md., Computer Information Specialist Inc. of Silver Spring, Md., Orbis Online Inc. of San Antonio and NB Ventures Global eProcure of Clark, N.J. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract award, announced Aug. 12, is worth up to $20 million over five years.

They will develop commercial solutions for self-service and full-service, hosted auctions.

In a reverse auction, buyers specify the product they want, and sellers compete to offer the best price. In a hosted auction, the contractor conducts the auction event. In a desktop auction, the contractor assists the buyer agency by providing the technology and support necessary to conduct events on its own.

The multiple-award contract will serve to stabilize the prices agencies pay for reverse auction capabilities, making it easier for agencies to use the service, said Jon Doherty, director of public sector business development for Orbis Online.

Online reverse auctioning increases competition and creates market transparency by allowing vendors to submit multiple bids in real time, according to Orbis. Vendors' identities are concealed during the auction, but their bids are not. Once the auction is finished, the agency can evaluate the bids, weigh other variables and then make their purchase.

The online process reduces prices and streamlines negotiations, benefiting both buyer and supplier, according to Orbis.

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