New Defense Bill Opens the Door for Online Retailers

September 8, 2017

Defense bill would privatize the way the federal government buys everyday staples

The Washington Post, Aaron Gregg, September 3, 2017

New legislation working its way through Congress could significantly alter the way commercial companies sell everyday products and services to the U.S. military and federal agencies, opening the door for online retailers to reach a massive new customer.

The defense bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year contains language that would allow the Pentagon and other government agencies to buy directly from commercially run online marketplaces, bypassing a highly regulated purchasing process managed by the General Services Administration.

High-tech weaponry such as jets, guns and missiles would still be developed and sold through traditional government contracts. But the effort would allow companies like, OfficeMax and Home Depot to set up marketplaces for agencies to buy basic supplies. ( chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Currently, agencies buy commercial goods through GSA schedules — essentially pre-negotiated agreements to provide products and services to the government at volume discount pricing.

The bill’s supporters see commercially run marketplaces as a way to reduce bureaucracy and drive down prices for the government. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) initiated the effort as a stand-alone bill called the Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act, which was later merged into the House-passed defense spending bill. The Senate is slated to take up the legislation when it returns from recess. READ MORE….

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