What is the GSA’s Commercial Platforms Program?

Commercial Platforms - GSA

The General Services Administration (GSA) introduced an "online marketplace program" to simplify the purchasing process for federal agencies when acquiring commonly used products such as office supplies.

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This initiative has gained popularity among federal agencies due to its user-friendly approach, saving both time and money. Certainly, here are the goals of the program:

  • Modernizing the commercial product buying experience.
  • Streamlining commercial item purchasing to help agencies focus on mission-oriented acquisition.
  • Analyzing commercial item spend data to enable better buying decisions.

GSA: Online B2B Platform

Since its inception in the 2021 fiscal year, the GSA Commercial Platforms program has seen significant growth, with spending increasing by approximately $28 million in the first full fiscal year. Furthermore, the number of federal agencies participating in this program has risen substantially. In 2020, only six agencies, including GSA, initially joined the program. However, by the end of the 2022 fiscal year, a total of 27 agencies were actively making purchases through this platform. Here are some examples of GSA’s partnered B2B platforms:

  • GSA Advantage: GSA Advantage is one of the well-known online platforms that offers a wide array of commercial products and services, ranging from office supplies to IT equipment.
  • Amazon Business: The GSA has established a partnership with Amazon Business to provide government buyers with access to a vast selection of products and streamlined procurement processes.
  • eBuy: This platform allows federal agencies to post requests for quotations (RFQs) and obtain quotes from vendors, facilitating simplified purchasing for a variety of goods and services.

Recognizing the importance of monitoring and improving program performance, GSA updated its metrics in 2023. These metrics encompass various aspects such as customer satisfaction, feedback on price competitiveness, and agency spending on specific categories like products labeled as “Made in America.” An evaluation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that GSA is successfully meeting four out of the 11 established metrics. Additionally, GSA has identified steps to enhance the metrics where improvements are needed, particularly in terms of sales distribution across different platforms.

Advantages Reported by Federal Agencies:

Federal agencies engaging in the Commercial Platforms program have reported several advantages. Notably, the program facilitates the identification of products from federally mandated sources, such as AbilityOne. AbilityOne provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities by offering services and producing items like office supplies. However, GAO’s analysis indicated that purchases from AbilityOne sources represent only a small portion of overall expenditures, suggesting the potential for greater awareness and utilization of AbilityOne products.

An essential aspect of the program is its allowance for agencies to count purchases made from small businesses on these platforms toward their small business contracting goals. However, the current reporting process established by GSA for agencies to track these purchases is resource-intensive and impractical. As the program evolves, there is an opportunity for GSA to develop a more efficient process that assists agencies in achieving their small business contracting objectives.

GAO’s Recommendations and GSA’s Response:

The GAO has two suggestions for the GSA. First, they want the GSA to make a plan that helps agencies use AbilityOne better on these online marketplaces. Second, they want the GSA to make it easier for agencies to say they bought things from small businesses on these online marketplaces. The GSA agreed with both of these suggestions. The GAO also got some technical advice, which they used where it made sense.

GAO’s Review of the Program:

In 2018, a law called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) told the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget to create a program. This program lets government agencies buy things from online marketplaces. The goal was to make things more competitive and faster when buying certain stuff for the government. The GSA started a test of this program in June 2020.

Because of the 2018 law, a group called the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had to check how well the GSA’s program was working. This is the third time the GAO looked into it. In this report, they looked at things like how well the program is running and what’s good and not so good about it. They did this by checking program documents, looking at data on purchases, and talking to people from the GSA and eight different agencies that use the program. These agencies were picked to show how the program works for big and small agencies.

In conclusion, the GSA’s GSA Commercial Platforms Contracts program has made substantial strides in improving the efficiency of federal procurement processes. While it has achieved notable success, there are areas where enhancements can be made, such as increasing awareness of AbilityOne products and simplifying the reporting process for small business purchases. GAO has put forth recommendations for GSA to address these issues and further enhance the program’s effectiveness. GSA has concurred with these recommendations, signifying a commitment to continued improvement. 

Price Reporter offers valuable GSA contract help services in this domain, if you have any further questions or concerns about how GSA’s commercial platforms program works, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Additionally, Price Reporter is specializing in helping you get GSA schedule and provides comprehensive government contract management services. We can assist with any type of task, that GSA address to you. Whether you require support with GSA schedules or effective contract management, our experienced team can be a valuable resource for your needs. When it comes to GSA uploads, you don’t need to download SIP software and utilize it, because we developed EDI – the replacement for SIP. EDI is a fantastic way to put government catalogs and product pictures to GSA Advantage, GSA eLibrary, and DOD FedMall. It’s highly advanced, works very well, and is cost-effective. 

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  • I appreciate this article breaking down the GSA’s Commercial Platforms Program. It’s crucial for businesses like ours to understand these initiatives and how they may impact federal contracting. This program seems promising in terms of simplifying the procurement process and increasing transparency. Looking forward to seeing it in action!

  • The GSA’s Commercial Platforms Program sounds like a game-changer for government procurement. The article does an excellent job of outlining its goals and potential benefits, especially in terms of cost savings and access to a wide range of commercial goods and services. Exciting times ahead!

  • I’ve been hearing about the GSA’s Commercial Platforms Program, but this article provided a clear and concise explanation of what it is and how it aims to modernize federal procurement. It’s great to see the government embracing innovative solutions for better efficiency.

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