Electronic Commerce:

Small Business Participation in Selected On-line Procurement Programs

GAO-02-1: Published: Oct 29, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 2001.

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The federal government has been pursuing electronic initiatives to strengthen its buying processes, reduce costs, and create a competitive "virtual" marketplace. Small businesses, however, may have difficulty participating in federal on-line procurement programs. Furthermore, the government's business outreach and education programs related to electronic commerce may not be adequately coordinated. For the three federal on-line procurement programs GAO reviewed, the dollar share of awards to small businesses exceeded the overall small business share of total federal contract dollars awarded in fiscal years 2000 and 1999. Although small businesses successfully participated in these three programs, they still face obstacles in conducting electronic procurements with the government. The federal government is taking steps to address some of these obstacles, such as implementing a single point of entry on the Internet for vendors to access information on available government business opportunities greater than $25,000. Each of the four business assistance programs GAO examined had taken steps to educate its clients on electronic commerce as part of its operations. However, GAO could not fully determine the extent of these activities because they are conducted by hundreds of local and regional offices, and only one of the programs collected performance metrics specific to electronic commerce.

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