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Micro-purchase <span class="usa-label label-beta">Beta</span>
<div class="subtitle">A marketplace for open source work</div>
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<p class="usa-font-lead">This document provides an overview of how 18F
Micro-purchase works and a set of rules to which our administrators will refer
while running auctions.</p>
<h2 id="how-auctions-work">How auctions work</h2>
<p>Most auctions follow a pretty standard process:</p>
<li><strong>Pre-bidding period ("coming soon"):</strong> Auctions are posted
to the Micro-purchase Platform (and announced via our newsletter and Twitter
accounts) before bidding begins. This gives prospective vendors time to
estimate the effort that it might take to meet their acceptance criteria.
<li><strong>Bidding period ("open"):</strong> <a
href="policies#eligibility-to-bid">Eligible</a> vendors can place bids on the
auction from the time it "opens" (its "opening date") until the time it
"closes" (its "closing date"). At that time, the lowest bidder wins and must
deliver the code by the auction's delivery deadline.</li>
<li><strong>Delivery period:</strong> The winning vendor indicates that
they've begun work by <a
href="">issuing a
pull request</a>, <a
the issue associated with the auction, and clicking the "Start work" button
on the auction's page. At that point the conversation moves to the pull
request itself, wherein the winning vendor can update 18F and our customer
on their work in progress, ask questions, etc. Once the vendor believes
their pull request meets the auction's acceptance criteria, they'll return
to the auction page and indicate that they've finished their work by
clicking the "I'm done" button.</li>
<li><strong>Acceptance period:</strong> 18F works with our customer to
evaluate the winning vendor's code against the auction's acceptance
criteria. If the code meets the criteria, it's accepted. Otherwise, it's
<li><strong>Payment period:</strong> If their solution is accepted, the
winning vendor will receive payment at the payment URL specified in their
<p>That's the process in a nutshell. Additional details, including deviations
from this process, are covered below, under "source-selection method" and
"delivery and acceptance policy."</p>
<h2 id="code-of-conduct">Code of conduct</h2>
<p>Users of 18F's Micro-purchase Platform agree to abide by the <a
Code of Conduct</a>.</p>
<h2 id="transparency-policy">Transparency policy</h2>
<p>18F will publish, on a publicly available website
(, data associated with each auction (including
the auction description, acceptance criteria, amendments, etc.) and other
relevant information that is neither confidential or proprietary in nature nor
source-selection sensitive information that would otherwise implicate
procurement integrity concerns. </p>
<p>Auctions on 18F Micro-purchase are run according to a set of rules, either
as a sealed-bid auction or a (standard) reverse-auction. If an auction is run
as a <strong>sealed-bid auction,</strong> the total number of bids, the
identity of any vendor who places a bid, and the dollar amount of each bid
placed will be recorded but will be hidden from public view until the auction
closes and a winner is chosen.</p>
<p>If an auction is run as a <strong>reverse auction,</strong> any bids placed
on that auction are immediately made public, including the identity of the
vendor who placed it and the dollar amount of their bid. Making this
information public enables vendors to know if they are the low bidder and if
they've been outbid.</p>
<p>Once a winner is chosen, 18F will publish the final bid of each auction and
specific source-identifying data; for example, the quantity and amount of any
bids placed, the names of vendors who've placed bids, etc. During the delivery
period of each auction, 18F will collaborate with vendors in a publicly
visible GitHub issue and/or pull request, sharing any data related to project
management (for example, user stories, milestones, test scores, and
performance metrics).</p>
<h2 id="premature-closing">Premature closing</h2>
<p>18F reserves the right to delete an auction, prohibit bidding, and forego
delivery at any point in the pre-bidding, bidding, delivery, and acceptance
processes outlined above. 18F will not issue payment to a vendor until that
vendor's code has been deemed acceptable (see "Delivery and acceptance
policy," below) and their pull request has been merged.</p>
<h2 id="eligibility-to-bid">Eligibility to bid</h2>
<p>Vendors must have a GitHub account to register and sign into the
Micro-purchase Platform. In order to <a href="docs/placing_a_bid.html">place a bid</a>, vendors must obtain a DUNS number and
register in Finally, auctions with a starting bid greater than
$3,500 are limited to those vendors whose profile indicates that
they are registered as a small business.</p>
<h2 id="source-selection-method">Source-selection method</h2>
<p>18F Micro-purchase uses reverse-auctions to determine the source for any
given procurement. Eligible vendors can place bids on an auction during its
bidding period. Once that period ends, the vendor with the lowest bid is
deemed the winner. In the event of a tie, the <em>first</em> vendor to place
the bid is deemed the winner. </p>
<p>In the event that a winner is either (a) unable to deliver on an auction by
the delivery deadline assigned to them or (b) delivers code that is deemed
unacceptable, 18F reserves the right to reject the auction, choose a new
winner, or re-run the auction. If 18F chooses a new winner for an auction,
that winner will be either a vendor that tied with the original winner (but
who placed their bid just after the original winner) or the next-highest
bidder — with preference given to the former.</p>
<h2 id="bid-acknowledgement-and-communication">Bid acknowledgement and communication</h2>
<p>18F will contact the winning bidder within 24 hours of the end of the
auction. We require a timely response to acknowledge and confirm the bid
amount. The code requested in the auction will be due as explained in the
acceptance criteria of each specific auction.</p>
<h2 id="delivery-and-acceptance-policy">Delivery and acceptance policy</h2>
<p>18F gives every auction a <strong>delivery period;</strong> that is, a
rough estimate of how long we think it'll take vendors to complete the work.
The default delivery period is five business days.</p>
<p>An auction's <strong>delivery deadline</strong> is set whenever a winner is
chosen. Delivery deadlines are based on an auction's delivery period, but
exclude holidays and weekends. For example, if an auction's delivery period is
three business days, and that auction ends the Friday before Labor Day, then
the delivery deadline will fall on the following Thursday.</p>
<p>We realize that unanticipated issues may arise during the delivery period
that need to be resolved in order for winning vendors to successfully deliver.
We encourage winning vendors to submit their work, even if it's incomplete,
and ask questions early and often.</p>
<p>In some cases, 18F may, at its discretion, agree to an extension of the
delivery period, known as a "cure period." During the cure period, vendors are
required to fix any bugs or otherwise refine their pull request so that it can
be accepted and merged. The length of the cure period will vary depending on
what is needed, but will not exceed five (5) business days.</p>
<h2 id="payment">Payment</h2>
<p>Payments are usually made promptly after winning vendor's pull request has
been merged. Unless otherwise indicated in writing, payments will be made to
the payment URL specified in the winning vendor's account. To ensure timely
payment, vendors should <a href="policies.html"></a>specify their payment URL
<em>before</em> placing a bid. Any and all fees associated with the credit
card payment are the responsibility of the winning vendor (that is, they will
come out of the award).</p>
<h2 id="micro-purchase-platform-fee">Micro-purchase (platform) fee</h2>
<p>18F charges its customers a platform fee of $1,000 per auction to help
cover our operational expenses. This fee is assessed whenever an auction is
successfully completed; that is, whenever a vendor's work is accepted.</p>
<p>A platform fee is not assessed whenever an auction ends without a winner or
whenever an auction ends because its winning vendor's work was rejected. In
these instances, our team will likely work to collaboratively revise our
customer's acceptance criteria and relist their auction.</p>
<p>At this time, 18F waives the platform fee for any office within GSA's
Technology Transformation Service (TTS).</p>
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