NOPA waiting for GSA response

NOPA waiting for GSA response

(DECEMBER 16, 2019) The CEO of US office products association NOPA has told OPI his organization is keeping a close eye on recent developments as the country’s General Services Administration (GSA) attempts to implement on online marketplace for federal purchasing.

As we reported at the end of last week, the GSA’s plans hit a bump in the road in November when Amazon – which is expected to play a leading role in this marketplace initiative – filed a complaint with the government agency.

NOPA CEO Mike Tucker has been backing attempts by independent dealer national accounts platform EPIC Business Essentials to be involved in GSA’s e-commerce platform which represents estimated annual spend of around $6 billion.

Tucker said that Amazon is arguing that the terms of the GSA’s request for proposals (RFP) are “inconsistent with commercial practice”.

“The [Amazon] protest challenged GSA’s market research and compliance with laws such as the Competition in Contracting Act, Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, (FASA) and Section 846 from the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act,” said Tucker.

“Under both FASA and Section 846, it is established federal policy that commercial terms and conditions are to be used only ‘to the maximum extent practical’,” he explained. “This language reflects the government’s obligation to balance its responsibility to the public against a vendor’s T&Cs.

“Amazon has a history of dictating its T&Cs to customers and vendors, and is clearly trying to pressure GSA to do things the Amazon way.”

Tucker confirmed that EPIC did not bid on the current RFP because it did not meet all the requirements for an e-marketplace as defined by the GSA. However, he is not counting out the prospect of EPIC being part of a wider online procurement solution.

“GSA has said it will test the other types of platforms it has identified but has not given a timeline,” he noted. “Therefore, we can’t really plan any alternative/federal initiatives until more information is available on the platform or platforms GSA has decided to do a pilot with.”

Interestingly, Tucker did confirm there is legislation pending that would require the GSA to include the EPIC type of platform in its pilot programme. Unfortunately, the vote on this has been delayed by all the Presidential impeachment noise in Washington over the past few weeks. - (OPI)