05/29/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fixing Washington: Asking the Right Questions to Buy Stuff

The General Services Administration buys a lot of stuff (products and services) for the country, and they're figuring out how to help us all get what we pay for. 

Overall, the GSA's trying to figure out how to break from traditional bureaucracy, learning from private industry and the public, asking people what they think via the site BetterBuy.

One really good idea from BetterBuy is being tried now.

The GSA wants to break away from the traditional system where the companies that provide the stuff help specify what the stuff should be. Normally, they put out Requests for Information and Requests for Proposals, and companies help the GSA figure out what to specify. 

That means the companies that want the business gets to define what the business is, and can tailor that to their strengths and weaknesses. Any change to this could threaten the less effective, less competitive businesses.

The deal is to open up this process to everyone, including the public and the companies who want business from the Feds, so that we can work together for the country. One way to do that is on the Net using a Wiki, and that's what they've created, the BetterBuy Pilot(s) Wiki.

GSA is seeking input on a requirement to provide a data repository for The pilot was ready to launch on March 25, 2010. The second is called "Clearpath". For this one, GSA is looking for input on the technical infrastructure for our Clearpath hosting, and developing the approach for a future acquisition. GSA will launch Clearpath in a few weeks.

You are invited to contribute in multiple ways:

(1) Help us write the draft solicitation

(2) Ask questions below each section

(3) Engage in meaningful technical debate below each section

(4) Point out mistakes

(5) Ask general questions

(6) Contribute! This is the most transparent acquisition that GSA FEDSIM has ever attempted.

For better explanations check out Federal Computer Week GSA tries wiki approach to develop RFPs
or GSA solicits wisdom of the crowd for acquisition improvements