Will Amazon Become Your Sole Marketing Channel to the Government?
If you are currently (or planning to) selling merchandise to the government, will your firm's marketing function be locked into an Amazon-type online merchandise site?
Will employees be placed at further risk of layoffs should the government simply find what appears to be a better deal than you are now offering -- perhaps a deal that has disintermediated the "middle man" to lower prices and gain business?
Perhaps an online system that allows foreign competitors to take over a large portion of merchandise sales flowing to the government? Will legislators demand preferential treatment of domestic vendors, small and minority-owned businesses?
The real answer is nobody but the special interest lobbyists and legislator staff writers know what may be the end result offered to legislators.
Buried in House Resolution H.R. 2810, the Fiscal Year 2018 NATIONAL DEFENSE
AUTHORIZATION BILL is a provision that would allow the government to begin purchasing its off-the-shelf products (office equipment, supplies, and other commonly available merchandise) through an online retail such as Amazon, Walmart, etc. While the names of the online retailers are not mentioned, Amazon is certainly the first one that comes to mind.
Possible conferring a major monopoly-type advantage to Amazon much in the same manner that Google dominates search and discovery of business websites.
Some of the draft language being used ...
TITLE VIII—ACQUISITION POLICY, ACQUISITION MANAGEMENT, AND RELATED MATTERS LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS; SUBTITLE A—DEFENSE ACQUISITION STREAMLINING AND TRANSPARENCY; PART I—ACQUISITION SYSTEM STREAMLINING
Section 801—Procurement through Online Marketplaces
This section would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to contract with multiple commercial online marketplaces for the procurement of certain commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. Marketplaces would be limited to those that are commonly used in the private sector; provide a dynamic selection of products and prices from numerous suppliers; provide procurement oversight controls, such as two-person approval for purchases; and can screen suppliers and products to ensure compliance with suspension and debarment, domestic sourcing,and other similar statutes.
Online marketplaces primarily provide streamlined and automated access to various suppliers; suppliers therefore would be considered prime vendors for purposes of the Small Business Act.
The committee expects that by contracting with numerous marketplaces, there will be competition between marketplaces for procurement of COTS products, and government personnel will have streamlined access to suppliers, products, and prices from varying marketplaces. The section therefore would not require GSA to use competitive procedures to contract with each marketplace.
This section would require marketplaces to provide electronic access to information about products that are purchased, including the date of each purchase, the price paid, the person or entity within the department or agency that made the purchase, the delivery address, and the number of sellers that offered the same or similar product at the same time. The committee believes that such information would provide much better transparency into the Federal Government's purchasing and thereby enable more thorough oversight and accountability.
This section would require each contract with a marketplace to prohibit the sale or other use of such purchase information to a third party in a manner that identifies the Federal Government, or any of its departments or agencies, as the purchaser.
The committee believes that online marketplaces provide a substantial opportunity to greatly streamline procurement of COTS products. Namely, marketplaces generally ensure competition and price reasonableness, and therefore would obviate many of the time-consuming government-unique procurement processes GSA and the Department of Defense perform today.
Additionally, departments and agencies would be required to accept the standard terms and conditions related to purchases on each marketplace. The committee understands, however, that it may be prudent to procure some commercial products through traditional acquisition processes. Therefore, this section would require the Department of Defense to purchase COTS products from the marketplaces only in appropriate circumstances.
The committee expects the Secretary of Defense to issue implementation guidance that may limit the products that the Department of Defense may purchase on marketplaces. The committee expects, however, that opportunities to purchase additional products through marketplaces may arise as GSA gains familiarity with the use of online marketplaces.
Elsewhere in this report, the committee includes an item directing the Administrator of GSA to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the results of online marketplace purchasing.
Will your company and job be placed at risk from one of the mega-retailers who may have the clout of an 800-pound gorilla to negotiate prices to improve their own margins?
Are we further decimating the middle class in the name of efficiency and competition that has a way of turning into waste, fraud, and abuse of the government system?
Like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."