A Government Acquisitions Supercenter

Superstores like Target, Walmart, and Costco are hugely popular. You make one stop, and you can get everything on your list – from car tires, to fresh produce, to a sofa, to a pair of sneakers. However, it can be exhausting to wander around and find a particular item, especially when there doesn’t seem to be any organization to the layout. That’s why those aisle markers are so important.

The General Services Administration has recently rolled out a program to help government acquisition officials, and part of what makes it a success is its ability to categorize acquisition services to improve the process for government employees. Laura Stanton, Acting Director of the Common Acquisition Platform, spoke with Christopher Dorobek, host of the podcast DorobekINSIDER on the new program, its goals, and its organization.

First of all, the Common Acquisition Platform is a program that aims to help government acquisitions professionals do their job better. “It’s designed to improve things on GSA’s side, improve end-to-end support of acquisition, look at savings, etc.,” explained Stanton. In the tricky environment of acquisitions, it’s important to have resources and support.

The most exciting part of the Common Acquisition Platform, according to Stanton, is the Acquisition Gateway website. The Gateway is a conglomeration of websites, sectioned off into categories, that gives government employees the information they need to help them procure government contracts in the broad variety of areas. The website is organized around the central mantra: Learn, Connect, Act.

The information is organized into eight category hallways, just like aisles in Target. “Inside of each hallway are contract vehicles that they can use to buy. There’s historical transaction data and transaction platforms, which tells them where they actually go to purchase things,” she explained. “We have curated advice from experts in that category who actually help the buyer better understand how to purchase within that category.”

When you’re at Target, though, even with the help of the aisle markers, it can be difficult to find your precise item, which is when it becomes important to find someone who can help you.

Similarly, the Gateway is also about enabling communication and building a community for acquisition professionals to talk to one another – to share best practices and information on the various categories of federal acquisitions.

“We spent a lot of time doing interviews with the government acquisition community before we launched this. We kept hearing that the requiring officials don’t know how to buy things. They know they have a problem, but they don’t necessarily know how to solve it,” she explained. The Acquisition Gateway seeks to solve that gap.

To do so, it stresses user feedback. Acquisitions are a difficult topic, even for the experts, so it’s important to have a place to share knowledge on this tough subject. “There have been emails sent out to the acquisition workforce across the government, asking them to come and log in, and give us their feedback,” Stanton explained.

This program was just launched on October 1st, 2014, so it’s relatively new, and it’s looking to expand and evolve as it progresses and gains momentum. The general goals for the platform are broad, covering all of acquisitions, but they will eventually focus most upon digital services and IT acquisitions.

The goal of the DorobekINSIDER podcast is to share knowledge to help the government do its job better. Looks like we’re not the only ones!

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