The General Services Administration decided to give the public a peek peak at its online acquisition tool, opening a portion of the Acquisition Gateway on Feb. 5.
"The public will have access to as much of the Acquisition Gateway as possible and will experience the same user-centric design as federal users," said Tom Sharpe, commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, in a statement.
"The Gateway will enable that access while protecting the integrity of critical federal data and the security of private information supplied by contractors and others."
The Acquisition Gateway, an online portal to provide contracting officers with an information resource to help make contracting easier, has been a pet project for the GSA since 2014 and offers procurement officials several pages of information on service categories called hallways.
The Gateway also offers feds the ability to connect with other acquisition officers and find research and advice on different contract vehicles.
Starting Feb. 5, the public will have access to eight hallways on the Gateway site, including the Project Center, Solutions Finder, Statement of Work Library, TechFAR Hub, News and Events feeds, Releasable category-curated articles, Buy Online button and Contribute & Share button.
The site will continue to develop in an iterative process, GSA officials said in conference call with the media on Jan. 27, and can add functionality to address what features both acquisition officers and the public would find useful.
Laura Stanton, acting director of Strategy Management for GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said in a statement that the move to open certain features of the Gateway to the public will help spread the word about its ease and functionality, providing users with a look at how the site is continuing to develop.
"Although the Acquisition Gateway's primary stakeholder is the federal user, publicity about the tool garnered attention from citizens, the media, industry, government contractors, third-party consultants and state and local governments," she said. "Operational transparency is one of the Gateway's underlying principles, and a public view has been part of the Gateway plan since day one."
In the Jan. 27 conference call, Anne Rung, OMB's administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the goal was for the Gateway to have 10,000 users by the end of the year. The site officially hit 5,000 users on Oct. 1, 2015.