A new mobile app is providing business owners with more convenient access to Virginia’s e-procurement system.

Launched Tuesday, Aug. 14, the program — eVA Mobile 4 Business — gives users a free-to-use mobile view of the state’s available government business opportunities in real time. The app is available for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices and various tablet computers.

According to state officials, there are currently more than 53,000 suppliers and 22,000 state, higher education and local government users of Virginia’s eVA procurement process. The app, which was developed by CGI, an IT and business process service firm, will connect those entities with the needs of state government.

In a press conference announcing the mobile app, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the project was another big step into 21st-century technology for the state.

“What this app will do is … provide a broader and more responsive audience of people to know what Virginia needs,” McDonnell said. With a simple click, he said, users will know “in an instant what goods and services the commonwealth will need at any time.”

“This is a tremendous new step,” he added. “I think we’ll save more time and more money, be more efficient and expand the pool of vendors [for the state].”

The app also borrows an idea from eBay. When using the app, businesses can add specific business opportunities they are interested in to a “watch list” so they can track the progress of multiple items.

Virginia Secretary of Administration Lisa Hicks-Thomas believed the app would be of great benefit to small business owners. She said the app’s simplicity should make it helpful for those “on the go” that still want to keep an eye on business prospects.

Sandra Sylvester, founder and principal of Superior Global Solutions, an IT solutions business based in Midlothian, Va., agreed.

“It means we don’t have to always hit the street,” Sylvester said of the app and the information it provides. “It’s coming to us and giving us a great opportunity to be a successful small business in the commonwealth.”

Other Recent Upgrades

In addition to the mobile app, Virginia’s eVA program recently launched an addition to the e-procurement system’s online bidding tools. Called Quick Quote Reverse Auction, the application enables suppliers to bid multiple times with increasingly better pricing on a business opportunity.

According to the state, unlike a standard auction — where bidding drives the prices up — the tool is designed to get the lowest price for goods and services.

“It has a high potential of making our large-volume and lower-dollar procurements more efficient and competitive,” said Paul Logan, deputy director of communications for McDonnell.

In a test of the new auction system, King George County solicited bids on a specialized fire department vehicle. Bids began at $67,890, but the tool helped bring in a winning low bid of $37,100, a savings of 45 percent.

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.