Players in the world of government acquisition abound: acquisition policy makers, who determine how purchases will be made; customers who have the need for products; contracting officers, who write the contracts; vendors, who supply the goods and services; logisticians, who store the items in a government warehouse; and the taxpayers, who ultimately pay the bill for the products. All of these players benefit from eCommerce in different ways. Let’s look closer at the benefits for each group.
Policy makers benefit by developing an enterprise wide acquisition strategy for simplified acquisitions, which simplifies the process, saves money, and increases small business goals. eCommerce also increases business intelligence because purchases are consolidated in a single place.
Customers, who are looking for small repetitive buys, especially when they are for commercial type items, benefit from the self-service aspect of eCommerce. They don’t have to leave their desk to make purchases; they can compare prices of multiple vendors and the product arrives at their desk, usually within 3-5 days. This type of action is far superior to the traditional 30-90 day acquisition cycle for small purchases.
The contracting officers benefit because eCommerce reduces duplication of procurement costs and develops strategic partnerships with vendors. Once they do the contracting work and select a vendor or series of vendors for a commodity area, they can move on to more complicated acquisitions. Making commercial type contracts available on government eCommerce sites like DOD EMALL and GSA Advantage and allowing self-service purchase orders, greatly reduces day-to-day contracting workload. Additionally, eCommerce provides a level of automation for the contacting community.
Vendors also see a number of benefits. They can gain access to worldwide markets with minimal marketing costs. Small business can compete directly with large business and they can easily track purchases and use this to better understand the needs of their customers.
Right now, government budgets are really tight and government logisticians are always looking at ways to save money by reducing inventory. Putting commercial type items on long-term contracts and making them available on government eCommerce sites can greatly reduce the stock kept in government warehouses. Global vendors have the ability to provide stock worldwide in a very short time frame or can ship directly to government consolidation points for overseas shipment.
Lastly, the taxpayer benefits with lower government acquisition costs. Studies within the government by GSA Advantage, Seaport-E, and DOD EMALL have shown that eCommerce purchases can save 7-15% in purchases costs and up to 25-30% in purchasing process costs.
No matter whose perspective you use, eCommerce is a good idea for government acquisition. Unfortunately it is a much underutilized tool in the government acquisition tool box. Why do you think the federal government has been slow in utilizing this technology that has been around for almost 20 years?