A Canadian software developer is creating an online database to connect government employees across North America with key suppliers.
Govpurchasing.com has begun registering a range of companies to showcase their products and
services, the first stage of an effort to build an electronic exchange of public sector best practices. Governments will also be invited to enter their service and purchasing requirements into the system.
The site is being constructed by Toronto-based NCM Software Development, which has been a provider of government list services for more than 10 years. NCM president Nigel Marsh said registering and searching on Govpurchasing.com is free. The revenue model is based on potential ancillary services which the company would sell to clients.
“”There’s nobody that’s going to provide as current and well-maintained information,”” he said. “”We’re going to be really focused on ensuring that the companies that are registered have to maintain their information on a quarterly basis or they get turned off.””
Besides the opportunity to list their products and services, suppliers will have access to custom reports that would, for example, allow users to generate targeted selections based on dollar amounts, product or service categories, among other criteria. The site will also offer targeted advertising positions, contract documents and links to public sector trade publications and newsletters. A discussion forum is in the works.
For governments, Marsh said Govpurchasing.com would offer similar services like custom supplier reports and the ability to search for suppliers according to keywords based on U.S. and Canadian government coding systems.
“”We have to build it to a certain level so when we promote it to government, they’re going to use it as an active site,”” he said.
Ernie Toperczer, a partner in the public sector practice at the Toronto offices of Deloitte & Touche, said there was a chance some government workers would turn to an outside source of information for their purchasing needs.
“”It all depends on what you classify as government, because each municipality and department reacts differently to the question. I think generally they do have a vendor list of record, which is really their preferred vendor list,”” he said. “”Whenever they have a need, they would use that list. In some cases, they only refer to the list, depending on the nature of the engagement and the magnitude of the engagement.””
Marsh said he believes NCM’s track record in government list services gives the site credibility, and may open up the market to a wider variety of suppliers.
“”Most business opportunities in the government are under the threshold of where they have to go to RFP, where it’s non-tendered,”” he said. “”We’re not discouraging any company from participating.””
Marsh said one of the potential sources of revenue include the building of a network of retired civil servants in different industry sectors who could act like consultants and assist companies with doing business in the public sector.