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Is GSA reinventing the wheel with reverse auction plan?

As I read the General Services Administration’s announcement on the launching of a reverse auction site, I couldn’t help but scratch my head and wonder why.

Don’t get me wrong, the reverse auction concept has a lot of merit. For the right products, it’s a smart way to go. For the uninitiated, a reverse auction is where a buyer posts a need, and sellers bid to provide that service. The process drives down prices.

Reverse auctions are a great idea, but my question is why is GSA building one when there are commercial auction platforms available?

FedBid.com is well known in the government market but they aren’t the only reverse auction platform out there. I counted at least 12 others in the first two pages of a Google search using the term "reverse auction platforms."

With that many commercial providers, it begs the question, why do we need a government built and managed platform?

I reached out to FedBid to get a reaction and they said they were still studying the announcement and declined to comment further. They probably have to tread a fine line because I’m sure a lot of their business comes through GSA.

In reading the announcement on the launch of the platform, GSA speaks like it invented the concept when in reality, the value of reverse auctions has been proven over and over again by FedBid and other private sector companies. FedBid claims on its website to have worked with 60,000 sellers and 15,000 buyers.

In today’s environment, shouldn’t GSA spend its precious resources on something else when the services and technology is so readily available and being successfully used in the private sector?

Why build something that so directly competes with what companies currently are providing?

Why not spend that development money on other needs, such as training and education, to improve procurements?

I’m sure there are other priorities for the resources than reinventing the wheel.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:35 AM


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