We all know the USG’s Federal agencies, departments, bureaus, contractors etc. spend billions of dollars annually on the procurement of simple goods to run their offices and in-field operations.
These are basic products (paper, pens, power cords, post-its etc.) which any entity - public or private - requires to conduct a successful business. The items are mostly small in per-unit-price, yet when extrapolated to support a collective employee base in the millions; computes to billions in annual spend. Our current problem is that unlike a private entity with a single ‘procurement department’, the USG has siloed this function in many instances amongst agencies and lacks an effective mandate to centralize and leverage our spend.
GSA has made valiant attempts here through the hard work of many people, yet without a mandate, every agency with purchase cards and/or an internal procurement department (note almost all have one) end up silently and unintentionally bidding against each other. This practice creates multiple buyers, all spending from one USG wallet, for the exact same products we could be collectively purchasing through a single entity - leveraging our spend and purchasing at a reduced price. One solution would be to task GSA’s “Federal Acquisition Service” with the mandate to provide this service across all USG, streamlining private sector entry points to one agency, mandating all agencies to participate and prohibiting all non-emergency, one-off spending and internal contracting now occurring, regardless of total product cost.
To do so however, we must evolve GSA’s resource base and customer portal to better serve our customers – perhaps following the Amazon model which has successfully served many Americans in garnering basic well-known products at a low cost through a single seamless interface – linking thousands of business entities (many MWBE’s amongst them) through a single website / procurement source.