The newly passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision intended to level the playing field in the federal government’s pilot e-commerce portal program that gave Amazon an advantage over other distributors.
The 2018 NDAA required the General Services Administration (GSA) to establish a pilot program for using commercial e-commerce platforms to purchase items for various federal agencies. However, the requirements for the pilot program effectively narrowed the eligible e-commerce marketplace platforms to only one: Amazon. Since then, Congress directed the GSA to include multiple commercial e-commerce portal providers in its pilot tests, but the GSA has continued to favor Amazon as a platform provider.
The new NDAA seeks to rectify the situation by placing new requirements on the GSA pilot program. The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) celebrated this change in a statement on Dec. 15. “On behalf of the $6 trillion wholesale distribution industry, we commend and thank Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and Congress for addressing GSA’s current pilot e-Commerce Portal program which unfairly gives Amazon monopoly power in federal government procurement,” said Blake Adami, NAW vice president of government relations. “Every day, Amazon commits unfair acts against small businesses and distributors that sell on Amazon’s marketplace. This year’s NDAA requires the GSA to go beyond solely using Amazon’s e-marketplace and begin testing several different e-commerce models in the pilot program. This provision will ultimately allow small businesses and distributors to participate in the program’s e-commerce portal and compete in this process without being pushed out due to limited competition and unfair practices. NAW is committed to fighting unfair acts by monopolistic companies and we urge Congress to continue its work on antitrust legislation to hold companies like Amazon accountable.”