GSA Makes Bid for Auctions

WASHINGTON (05/31/2000) - The General Services Administration is launching the first governmentwide reverse auction that will allow government buyers to compare competing bids online in real time and select a supplier that offers the best price.

GSA selected 10 companies - large, small and woman-owned - to participate in a six-month pilot project to test how government buyers can save taxpayer money by participating in online auctions instead of the traditional government procurement process.

The auctions will be available on buyers.gov, a Web site being set up by Seta Corp., a small business that is the portal and host for the program.

"In the future, we'll be able to do the construction of a building" by buying online, GSA contracting officer Carolyn Hecox said.

"We're testing the marketplace and developing new business practices for government so the taxpayer can reap the benefits of the auction houses that are opening in the commercial marketplace on the Internet," she said.

Reverse auctions, as they are known, are becoming the rage in the private sector. Manny DeVera, director of GSA's Federal Technology Service IT Solutions Regional Services Center, hopes to create the same capacity to speed the sale of computer hardware and software to agencies and make it easier for agencies to buy information technology products at lower costs.

"They come here because they can leverage their buying power. They can get better pricing. As more people buy, we can expect lower prices," DeVera said.

The companies in the pilot are:

* Seta Corp.

* ACS Federal

* CIS Global, a small, woman-owned business.

* Electronic Data Systems Corp.

* FreeMarkets Inc.

* Frictionless Commerce Inc.

* KPMG LLC

* Mobshop Inc.

* Oracle Corp.

* Spectrum International

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