By Barbara S. Kinosky, Esq.
Whether you are an Amazon Prime Member, taking advantage of free shipping, video streaming, and other products, or a non-member, chances are good you have either ordered from Amazon or received something from someone that was ordered through Amazon. And if you are a federal contractor, you may be competing against them for federal contracts.
No doubt about it, Amazon has revolutionized the way Americans shop with access to over 100 million products. Amazon is now poised to take on, or takeover, depending on your perspective, the Federal Marketplace. But what will really be Amazon’s impact on the Federal Marketplace?
Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 115-91, signed by President Trump on December 12, 2017, contains what some sardonically refer to as “The Amazon Amendment.” Section 846 seeks to align government buying to commercial practices and technologies. The law directs the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) to establish a program, in partnership with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to procure commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items through commercial e-commerce portals. Initial research in developing the government’s implementation plan indicates the current environment for purchasing COTS items is “overly burdensome” on the government’s acquisition workforce and imparts high administrative costs on product suppliers.
The benefits of using Amazon are currently available through Amazon Business. But Section 846 will take this to an entirely new level.
It is difficult not to contemplate government use of commercial e-commerce portals without thinking of the biggest player in this area—Amazon. No doubt this company, with a nearly Trillion dollar valuation, will be a commercial e-commerce portal for Uncle Sam when all is said and done. But what would be the impact of an Amazon commercial e-commerce portal for buying COTS items? What will be the impact on the Federal Supply Schedule? Small business? These are just a couple of the many valid concerns and questions current and potential government suppliers have about this law. Some even go as far as to opine the long-term impact of this law will be to create a monopoly for Amazon in the Federal Marketplace. Amazon’s entry into State and Local Government procurements has been met with mixed reaction. GSA Schedule contractors feel that the regulations that govern schedules, such as the Trade Agreements Act, the Price Reductions Clause and ongoing audits are not being applied to Amazon. Because of this interesting dilemma, we have invited Robert Bohn, Head of Federal at Amazon Business to speak.
Join us on October 23rd, 2018, when Centre Law and Consulting hosts a webinar presenting Robert Bohn, Head of Federal at Amazon Business, who will introduce and provide an overview of Amazon Business’ Platform for webinar participants. Mr. Bohn will share his insight into Amazon Business operations and the webinar will provide an opportunity to ask what he sees will be Amazon’s role in the Federal Marketplace as Section 846 is fully implemented, and as time goes on. Please join us for this highly-informative webinar and insight into commercial e-commerce portals in the Federal Marketplace.
About the Author:
Barbara Kinosky is the Managing Partner of Centre Law and Consulting and has more than twenty-five years of experience in all aspects of federal government contracting. Barbara is a nationally known expert on GSA and VA Schedules and the Service Contract Act, and she has served as an expert witness for federal government contracting cases.