Technocrat | December 26, 2018: All Eyes on E-Commerce

What’s New This Week:

All Eyes on E-Commerce

Tensions were high last week, as lawmakers pleaded with President Donald Trump to sign a stop-gap spending bill, which the Senate passed on Dec. 19, to avoid a partial government shutdown. Yet President Trump held his ground, saying a shutdown would last “for a very long time” if Congress didn’t meet his request. Things certainly didn’t feel merry right before the holidays. Speaking of which, Merry Christmas to those federal employees who celebrate! It must have been refreshing to get some good news from the White House when it issued an executive order to close government offices on Christmas Eve.

Last time, we briefly mentioned that the General Services Administration is moving fast on a plan to launch a proof-of-concept e-commerce platform similar to Amazon’s. While some details are still up in the air, GSA is considering multiple commercially operated online portals that will be available for government use—in pilot mode—by late 2019. The agency is likely to start small by limiting the portals to commercial products and services worth less than $10,000.

GSA officials will be busy over the next few weeks processing industry comments and going through months of market research. Their findings will then be published in a report to Congress. There’s already some pushback from critics, who say that allowing agencies to bypass federal acquisition regulations could harm competition.

The government procurement process is complex, especially when it comes to purchasing IT. The Senate just passed legislation to establish a governmentwide supply chain council. The Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Council will guide the development of National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines on supply chain risk management. That means, going forward, agencies could be prohibited from buying certain products or might even have to remove software from their IT systems if there are supply chain risks.

There’s another Facebook-related scandal brewing. Lawmakers are once again unhappy with the social media giant after a new report surfaced that Facebook allowed companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify to access users’ personal data—including private messages and contact info—in addition to other intrusions. The lawmakers are now pushing for stronger oversight by the Federal Trade Commission and proposing legislation to address the growing privacy problem.

So that’s a wrap for 2018. See you next year! (We’ll be back on Jan. 7.)

Get Smart

“We are not looking for a proof-of-concept with one provider. There need to be multiple e-commerce marketplaces for this to be successful, for this to accomplish its purpose.”

—Jeff Koses, senior procurement executive with GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy

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