Government Contracting News: GSA Must Ensure Security, Authenticity of E-Commerce System

Written on September 3, 2019

As the General Services Administration (GSA) moves toward awarding pilot contracts for its commercial e-marketplace program, ensuring that the contractors they work with offer authentic goods from authorized sources will be essential.  The success or failure of the program may hinge on the ability of customer agencies to know that they are getting what they ordered from responsible sources when buying from a GSA-awarded e-marketplace provider. The issue of authentic goods, or lack thereof, from such sources was again raised in a recent Wall Street Journal article criticizing one e-commerce site for “limited oversight” over items on its platform.  The article went on to say that the providers site, “has increasingly evolved like a flea market,” as opposed to “a retailer with goods deemed safe enough for customers.”  An e-marketplace initiative through which government agencies purchase non-authentic products from unauthorized sources is likely to hit the Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk list overnight, with Congressional hearings soon to follow. Commercial e-commerce sites offer the ability to make quick purchases and provide exceptional data analytics. When this process is properly managed, federal agencies can likely benefit from the use of such systems. GSA should ensure that the benefits from commercial sites are equally weighed with the risks.  E-marketplace providers should be able to show the agency how they will ensure that federal agencies get what they ordered from responsible sources to be considered for the pilot contract.

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