Government Fleet Top News

State Bidding Site Opens the Door But Some Feel Left Out

July 28, 2004

NORFOLK, VA — After three years in operation, many Hampton Roads business owners still seem undecided on the merits of eVA, the state’s e-procurement system, according to the Virginia Pilot newspaper.More than 19,000 businesses are registered on eVA, the sole route to selling goods and services to Virginia’s 577 registered public agencies, institutions and local governments. More than half of those are small, women-owned or minority businesses, with access to the $2.2-billion spent by the state last year, said Ron Bell, the director of the purchases and supply division of the state’s Department of General Services, which manages eVA. “eVA has made the commonwealth’s business opportunities more accessible to businesses and we are seeing a significant increase in suppliers bidding on the commonwealth’s business opportunities,” Bell said. “This is because they now have easier access to these opportunities, whereas before these companies had to visit each and every agency they did business with on foot.” Businesses list their goods and services on eVA, which allows government entities to solicit from the right vendors when they need supplies. Businesses can also bid on existing requests or participate in auctions through eVA. Shayne Fannin, fleet sales manager at Green Gifford Inc., an auto sales and service company in Norfolk, appreciates eVA’s convenience. Green Gifford already has two state contracts, and they’ve picked up 20 to 30 percent more business by bidding on projects they wouldn’t have known about on the western side of the state. “It’s definitely well worth it for us,” Fannin said. “It gives us one-source access to all the agencies, and it eliminates the need for people to call us to go over contracts or send purchase orders through the mail or fax. We can place the order right then on the Internet.” But some of the system’s users say they have yet to completely figure out eVA, which has been recently redesigned to be more user-friendly, and many balk at the fee structure. American Management Systems, a Fairfax company, provides the service for the state. Under its agreement, it recoups development and maintenance costs with a minimum annual revenue of $2.98 million, for a total of $14.9 million over the five-year contract. To fund the system, site users pay an annual membership fee of $25 or $200, depending on the services they want, and a 1 percent transaction fee for each order, with a $500 cap. Virginia collected about $3 million as its share of fees last year, which is used for system enhancements and administrative positions.

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