18F debuts micro-purchase platform

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The General Services Administration's innovation lab, 18F, launched a new platform last week to more easily post and receive bids on micro-purchase tasks.

Micro-purchase authority allows agencies to directly buy products and services as long as they don't exceed $3,500, and the agency used that authority in a new way in October 2015, when it essentially hosted a reverse auction to micro-purchase open source code for its CALC project.

18F declared the experience a success when it ended up buying open source code for just $1.

Now, 18F is further scaling that model, according to a Jan. 7 post to the 18F blog.

"We'll be posting batches of new tasks onto the micro-purchase platform in the coming weeks, and bidders will once again have an opportunity to contribute open source code to our projects for $3,500 or less," said V. David Zvenyach, 18F's director of acquisition management, and Alla Goldman Seiffert of 18F's consulting acquisitions team.

While the first experiment utilized Google Forms and GitHub Issues, the new platform uses an application programming interface to integrate with GitHub and SAM.gov, the federal government's contract award hub. The blog also said that forthcoming tasks posted to the new platform will continue to follow the reverse auction format. However, 18F intends to experiment with other formats.

"The first batch of opportunities will center on improving our in-house time-tracking software, Tock," said the blog post.

"This is a simple, open source app that 18F employees use to report their time on a weekly basis. We'll be posting a batch of auctions to purchase various fixes and new features for this platform," wrote Zvenyach and Seiffert.

For more:
- read the 18F blog post

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18F's micro-purchasing experiment results in $1 winning bid
18F to use micro-purchasing for open source code in new experiment