[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 240 (Friday, December 15, 2017)]
[Pages 59619-59621]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-26964]



[Notice-MV-2017-05; Docket No. 2017-0002; Sequence No. 25]

Procurement Through Commercial e-Commerce Portals

AGENCY: Office of Acquisition Policy, General Services Administration.

ACTION: Notice of a public meeting and request for information.


SUMMARY: The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) are interested in conducting an ongoing 
dialogue with industry about Section 846 of the National Defense 
Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, Procurement through 
Commercial e-Commerce Portals. The dialogue begins with this public 
notice and request for comment.
    GSA is providing external stakeholders the opportunity to offer 
input on the first implementation phase outlined in Section 846, an 
implementation plan due to Congress within 90 days of enactment.
    GSA and OMB are hosting a modified town-hall style public meeting 
to help inform the Phase I submittal.

DATES: The public meeting will be conducted on January 9, 2018, at 8:30 
a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Further Information for the public meeting 
may be found under the heading SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at GSA's Central Office, at 1800 F 
St NW, Washington, DC 20405.
    Submit comments identified by ``Procurement Through Commercial e-
Commerce Portals'', by any of the following methods:
     Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit 
comments by searching for ``Procurement Through Commercial e-Commerce 
Portals''. Select the link ``Comment Now'' and follow the instructions 
provided at the ``You are commenting on'' screen. Please include your 
name, company name (if any), and ``Procurement Through Commercial e-
Commerce Portals'', on your attached document.
     Mail: U.S. General Services Administration, Regulatory 
Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW, 2nd Floor, ATTN: Lois 
Mandell, Washington, DC 20405-0001.
    Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite ``Procurement 
Through Commercial e-Commerce Portals'' in all correspondence related 
to this case. All comments received will be posted without change to 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal and/or business 
confidential information provided.

[email protected], or 202-690-9232, for clarification of content, 
public meeting information and submission of comment. For information 
pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory 
Secretariat at 202-501-4755. Please cite ``Procurement Through 
Commercial e-Commerce Portals''.
    Written Comments/Statements: Interested parties may submit written 
comments to www.regulations.gov by January 16, 2018.
    GSA and OMB encourage early engagement so that public input may be 
considered in the formulation of the Phase I implementation plan, which 
is due to Congress within 90 days of enactment of the NDAA for Fiscal 
Year 2018.


I. Background

    The General Services Administration (GSA) was established to 
provide the United States Government with centralized procurement. For 
decades, GSA has provided access to commercial products through a 
number of channels including GSA Advantage!, GSA eBuy, GSA Global 
Supply, and the Federal Supply Schedules. Across the Government, the 
market for commercial products is estimated to be greater than $50 
billion annually.
    GSA has long been focused on improving the acquisition of 
commercial items. Throughout its history, GSA has sought to leverage 
the best available technology to help agencies shorten the time to 
delivery, reduce administrative cost, make compliance easier, be a 
strategic thought leader and supplier of choice across the Federal 
Government, and be a good partner to industry. Today, the best 
available technology includes commercial e-commerce portals.
    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, 
Section 846 Procurement Through Commercial e-Commerce Portals, directs 
the Administrator of the GSA to establish a program to procure 
commercial products through commercial e-commerce portals. Section 846 
language can be found at the following link--https://interact.gsa.gov/group/commercial-platform-initiative. Section 846 paragraph (c) 
instructs the ``Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in 
consultation with the GSA Administrator and the heads of other relevant 
departments and agencies,'' to carry out three implementation phases. 
Phase I requires:

    Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this 
Act, an implementation plan and schedule for carrying out the 
program established pursuant to subsection (a), including a 
discussion and recommendations regarding whether any changes to, or 
exemptions from, laws that set forth policies, procedures, 
requirements, or restrictions for the procurement of property or 
services by the Federal Government are necessary for effective 
implementation of this section.

    GSA and OMB intend to establish an ongoing dialogue with industry 
and interested parties in Government throughout the program's 
implementation. As a first step, GSA and OMB are seeking feedback from 
outside stakeholders on initial ideas for general program design and 
buying practices and, in that context, whether existing laws, Executive 
Orders, policies or other requirements may hinder effective 
implementation of the program.

II. Written Comments

    To assist GSA and OMB in drafting the Phase I implementation plan, 
GSA and OMB are inviting interested parties to submit written comments. 
GSA and OMB are encouraging those comments be submitted before the 
public meeting on January 9, 2018, which will help

[[Page 59620]]

GSA and OMB prepare informed questions for the public meeting 
discussions. However, all comments must be submitted by January 16, 
2018, which will allow the Government to take them into account before 
drafting the Phase I implementation plan.
    To facilitate comment submission, GSA and OMB have developed a 
number of questions grouped around three focus areas--program design, 
business practices, and implementation. Each question is intended to 
provide respondents with a general framework for commenting. These 
questions are not intended to be all-inclusive; other comments and 
observations are encouraged. GSA and OMB understand the tight timeframe 
for initial comment may limit commenters' ability to fully address 
every issue and are therefore encouraging commenters to continue their 
analysis and provide additional input at future outreach sessions.

A. General Program Design

    1. Leveraging existing e-commerce portal providers. What factors 
would encourage portal providers to contract with GSA to operate e-
commerce portals for Government use? What are the standard terms and 
conditions relating to purchasing through the portal? Which of these 
standard terms and conditions would need to change for Federal 
Government buying? What relief from applicable laws, Executive Orders, 
regulations, and policies is necessary for portal providers to want to 
enter this marketplace?
    2. Number of portals. What factors should GSA take into 
consideration when determining the appropriate number of contracts to 
award to portal providers to achieve the objectives of the law (i.e., 
enhancing competition, expediting procurement, enabling market 
research, and ensuring reasonable pricing of commercial products)? For 
example, would it be appropriate for GSA to seek to limit overlap of 
product categories and/or make award to a single portal provider for a 
product category? In some industries, such as travel, aggregators and 
metasearch engines permit easy comparison shopping. Does such a model 
fit into a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product marketplace?
    3. Phase-in. Section 846 envisions that the program would be 
available to acquisitions under the simplified acquisition threshold 
(SAT), which pursuant to NDAA Section 806, will be $250,000. 
Notwithstanding this limitation, should GSA take an incremental 
approach to the roll-out of the program? If so, should the phase-in be 
based on dollar value (e.g., focus initially on a threshold below the 
SAT), certain product categories (e.g., lab equipment, office supplies, 
clothing), and/or some other variable? Explain.
    4. Relationship between GSA, Government buyers, e-commerce portal 
providers, and sellers through portal providers. What is the commercial 
practice for the privity of contract relationship between e-commerce 
portal providers, sellers through portal providers, and buyers? Who 
should have privity of contract under the program? Should the portal 
provider have privity of contract with the sellers? Should the 
Government buyer have privity of contract with the seller through the 
portal provider?
    5. Relationship to existing programs. How should GSA consider the 
relationship between this program and other GSA managed Government-wide 
acquisition programs that provide ready access to COTS items, such as 
the Federal Supply Schedules and the national supply system? What 
unintended consequences, if any, do you envision, and what steps, if 
any, do you recommend to avoid them?

B. Buying Practices

    1. Competition. How do commercial firms consider competition when 
conducting purchases through commercial e-commerce portals, compared to 
the Federal Government's approach to competition in its acquisition 
system? Should all purchases between the micro-purchase threshold and 
the SAT be treated in identical fashion in terms of competition? How, 
if at all, should the competition rules be modified from what is 
currently required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) for COTS 
    2. Pricing, delivery and other terms of sale. How do commercial 
firms establish pricing, delivery, and other terms of sales when buying 
COTS products through commercial e-commerce portals? Should the 
Government's commercial e-commerce portal program allow GSA and/or 
Government buyers to negotiate discounts from stated prices and other 
concessions (e.g., volume discounts, faster delivery, longer 
warranties), as is done under the Federal Supply Schedules contracts? 
Alternatively, should Government buyers be restricted to a ``take it or 
leave it'' approach that limits customers to the prices sellers offer 
commercial customers based on the competitive pressures of the 
platform? How does the relationship between the e-commerce portal 
provider and supplier drive the approach?
    3. Compliance. What is the commercial practice of e-commerce portal 
providers for monitoring compliance with applicable laws/regulations 
and supply chain risk management of sellers through the portal? To the 
extent that purchases made through the portal are subject to certain 
Government-unique requirements, who should be responsible for ensuring 
compliance (e.g., the platform provider, the seller, the government 
buyer, other)?
    4. Considerations for small businesses, socio-economic programs, 
and mandatory sources. What, if any, adjustments should be made to 
existing requirements associated with small businesses, socio-economic 
programs, and mandatory sources?
    5. Supplier and product performance. What are the commercial 
practices for reviewing supplier and product performance on commercial 
e-commerce portals? How should the Government use supplier and product 
reviews for this program? Should Government reviews be public? Should 
the Government rely on commercial reviews integrated in the existing e-
commerce platform when making purchases through the program? What role 
should existing Government past performance data play in the program?
    6. Responsibility of platform sellers. What are the commercial 
practices of e-commerce portal providers vetting the sellers on their 
platform? What, if any, responsibility determination should be made for 
companies selling through the portals, who should make the 
responsibility determination, and when should such a determination be 

C. Implementation

    1. Changes to existing acquisition framework for COTS items. If the 
program were only to apply core commercial item clauses in contracts 
with e-commerce portal providers and suppliers who sell through the 
portal, could the program operate successfully in part or in full? If 
not, what additional changes are needed to statutes, Executive Orders, 
regulations, policies, and other guidance and tools, to make the 
program successful? Where possible, please tie recommendations for 
relief to suggestions made in response to other questions to help 
illustrate the potential benefits of action and the potential 
consequences of inaction.
    2. Level of relief. Should the list of applicable laws, Executive 
Orders, regulations, and policies applicable to program purchases be 
identical for all COTS transactions over the micro-purchase threshold 
and up to the SAT?

[[Page 59621]]

    3. Rulemaking. Should the regulations for this program be in the 
FAR, in separate GSA regulations, or both? Why?

D. Additional Considerations

    What other issues are especially important in thinking about Phase 
I and the initial implementation plan?

III. Public Meeting

    GSA and OMB are holding a modified town-hall style public meeting 
on January 9, 2018. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. Eastern 
Standard Time and conclude no later than 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard 
Time. Attendees can attend the meeting in person at GSA Central Office 
or virtually through GSA's internet meeting platform, Adobe Connect. 
Further details on the virtual meeting will be made available via GSA 
Interact at https://interact.gsa.gov/group/commercial-platform-initiative. (GSA may encourage industry-to-industry dialogue through 
this interact site.)
    GSA and OMB will not make presentations and will not answer 
questions during this meeting. Instead, GSA and OMB will actively 
listen to the viewpoints and information presented by different 
interested parties. GSA and OMB may pose questions to participants to 
clarify feedback, to generate dialogue, or to increase understanding.
    This meeting will focus on Phase I. Future sessions are envisioned 
to gather information for subsequent implementation phases.
    In-person Attendance: Interested parties may attend the public 
meeting to be held in the GSA Auditorium at GSA Headquarters, located 
at 1800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20405. The public is asked to pre-
register by January 2, 2018, due to security and seating limitations. 
To pre-register, email the names of attendees (required) and the name 
of their organization (not required) to Mr. Matthew McFarland at 
[email protected].
    Registration check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time 
January 9, 2018, and the meeting will start promptly at 8:30 a.m. 
Eastern Standard Time, January 9, 2018. Attendees must be prepared to 
present a form of government-issued photo identification.
    Oral Presentations: GSA and OMB intend to conduct a modified town-
hall/panel style discussion focused around each of the three main 
topics outlined above (i.e., program design, buying practices, and 
implementation). GSA will assign parties interested in presenting (at 
the public meeting) into panels.
    GSA intends to organize panel discussions around each of the three 
topic areas (General Program Design, Buying Practices, and 
Implementation). Each panel discussion will include up to five 
panelists and is expected to run between one to two hours. Parties 
wishing to participate as a panel member should email Mr. Matthew 
McFarland at [email protected] by December 28, 2017, noting which of 
the three topics they wish to address.
    GSA will select the panelists from amongst those expressing an 
interest and will formally notify them of which panel and estimated 
starting time. In selecting panelists, GSA will seek an array of 
perspectives, backgrounds, and views.
    As part of the facilitated dialogue, GSA and OMB employees will ask 
the panelists questions. Time permitting, other attendees may also be 
invited to ask questions. Time will be reserved before the conclusion 
of the meeting for attendees to comment on issues not already 
    Note: Requests made after the deadline to participate on a panel 
may be accepted if space permits.
    Virtual Attendance: Interested parties may also attend virtually 
through GSA's virtual meeting platform, hosted by Adobe Connect. 
Further details on the virtual meeting will be made available via GSA 
Interact at https://interact.gsa.gov/group/commercial-platform-initiative.
    Meeting Accommodations: The public meeting is physically accessible 
to people with disabilities. Request for sign language interpretation 
or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Matthew McFarland at 
[email protected] or 202-690-9232 by December 28, 2017.
    The TTY number for further information is: 1-800-877-8339. When the 
operator answers the call, let them know the agency is the General 
Services Administration; the point-of-contact is Mr. Matthew McFarland 
at 202-690-9232.

    Dated: December 11, 2017.
Jeffrey A. Koses,
Senior Procurement Executive, Office of Acquisition Policy, Office of 
Government-wide Policy, General Services Administration.
[FR Doc. 2017-26964 Filed 12-14-17; 8:45 am]