18F, an agile development group within the federal government, has officially opened bids for its first micro-purchasing experiment. The experiment is a pilot aimed at making micro-procurements more common within government entities.
What is a micro-purchase? In the federal government agencies have a certain low threshold of spending that they are allowed to do on a nearly discretionary basis. This enables buyers in the government to directly buy supplies and services as long as they are under $3500.
According to a blog post on the project no agency has ever used its micro-purchase authority to buy code, so 18F wants to try. The group will announce its first task and vendors will be able to bid. The lowest bid ($3500 or under) will get the gig. Notably, the bid process is being managed through GitHub and Google Forms which questions and answers happening in real time.
Interested users can follow the process along here. So far, bids have brought the project cost down to $2600 as of the time of this writing. Bidders do have the option to submit multiple bids if they are undercut throughout the process. The winning bidder will have 10 working days from the day they are chosen to complete the work. Work is paid upon completion.
If it works, this process could be an interesting model for state and local governments to follow as well.
The bidding window will close on October 29.