18F bringing smaller, more agile developers to government with micro-purchases
Reverse auctions could do more than get the federal government the best price. They can also attract independent software developers who’ve never contracted with the government before.
The General Services Administration’s digital services agency 18F has been focusing on acquisition innovation at the “micro-purchase” level — transactions under $3,500. By bringing government contracting newcomers to the table, 18F has found software developers who have delivered programs for as little as $1.
“One of the rules in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) is that under the micro-purchase threshold, which is $3,500, you do not have to compete for the contracts. You can basically do an award to essentially anybody who has a product or service, and as long as you have the budget and they can deliver it, you can go forward,” David Zvenyach, the acquisitions management director at 18F, said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “A lot of regulations that normally apply to acquisition activities don’t really apply below the micro-purchase threshold, which is a great place to sort of start experimenting and start learning how to do procurement. And so, we decided to see if we could do something innovative in the space of micro-purchasing, which is to say, could we apply what’s already a well-trod path of reverse auctions and apply that the the micro-purchase threshold and see if we could get custom software delivered?”