Feature Stories



Government e-Marketplace (GeM), India



{This article is an abridged version of the submission on “Government e-Marketplace (GeM)” made by Mr. Binoy Kumar, Director General, Supplies and Disposal, Government of India, for the South Asia Procurement Innovation Awards.}


Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is an end-to-end online procurement system for commonly used items of the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal, (DGS & D), Government of India. Developed using private e-marketplace design and processes, GeM offers buyers a huge list of products for individual categories of Goods/Services to shop for. Search, Compare, Select and Buy facility, a continuous Vendor-Rating system, and an easy Return policy makes GeM a convenient platform for buyers.

GeM is revolutionizing Indian public procurement scenario by making it paperless, cashless, and faceless. It is helping in cutting down administrative and transaction costs significantly for buyers and bidders. The innovation, built on modern e-commerce technologies, coupled with verifiable means of authenticity of suppliers and purchasers, allows a fully reliable procurement transaction to be done completely online. Within a few months of launch, GeM has become popular with over 19,000 users registering on the platform. It has integrated 1,036 Government department-buyers, 2,580 sellers, 81 service providers, 8,270 products / services, and delivered 1,074 orders worth USD 16 million as of January 2017.


The Good Governance initiative of the Government had a stated objective of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. As part of this, two Groups of Secretaries to the Government of India recommended that the current Government procurement system be reviewed and redesigned. They went on to state their preference for a market-based, open, and transparent framework in line with the Digital India Vision — Paperless, Cashless, and Faceless.

Procurement operations in India are typically delegated to procurement entities on a deconcentrated model based on the financial delegation levels permitted. These are covered by the regulatory framework of General Financial Rules (GFR). Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal, established for procurement for the Union Government, has a facilitating role in establishing rate contracts (similar to framework agreements). Over the last 65 years, DGS & D has set up over 3,000 rate contracts covering over 20,000 products. In an economy with a $2.3 trillion GDP and an estimated 15% of that being public procurement, around 700,000 tenders are issued every year by Government procuring entities. The aspiration was to leverage the technologies that were available and transform the way Government procured its daily use goods and services, leading to higher efficiency in cost, time, and efforts.

GeM (https://gem.gov.in/) was developed under the guidance of Directorate of Supplies and Disposal, Department of Commerce, Government of India, with technical collaboration of National e-Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India.

Challenges Addressed

The key challenges that are addressed by GeM include:


  1. Crafting a solution that cut down significantly on administrative and transaction costs on commonly and repeatedly procured items for both Government buyers as well as suppliers, for example transportation (or taxi) services.
  2. Eliminating multiple levels of manual, sequential verification and decision-making to bring down lead-time in procurement.
  3. Instilling confidence amongst all stakeholders, including vendors, of an open, inclusive, and competitive process.
  4. Reducing the physical means of financial transactions of various types of payments.


Innovations in the Solution

The idea of a Government procurement marketplace was an out-of-the-box approach to the challenges faced and has many elements of innovation.


  1. The ability of Government-buyers to interface and transact directly with potential suppliers in a manner that was faceless, paperless, and cashless conformed completely to the Digital India vision of governance.
  2. The end-to-end platform was able to get a strong buy in from multiple stakeholders with varied objectives on the aspect of procurement. They ranged from Finance, Audit, Accounts, and Vigilance functions within the Government to market providers that included Industry, OEMs, Retailers, and Banks, among others.
  3. GeM introduced many new ways of efficient procurement, particularly for services, which the Government had not done ever before e.g. the provisioning of transportation (taxi) services with spot-hiring, leasing, renting, among other options, in collaboration with global leaders Uber and Ola.
  4. GeM successfully addressed various entry barriers for vendors by simplifying the onboarding process and reduced the time frame dramatically. The traditional vendor rate contract cycle that lasted for 6 to 8 months was transformed to an online vendor registration that just took 20 minutes! This was achieved by securing offers through eSign that established an audit trail.
  5. GeM leverages cross-platform authentication of seller credentials, with individual identities verified through Aadhaar (the Unique Identification program of the Government of India) and the financial standings of individuals and supplier organizations through their Permanent Account Number (PAN) issued by the Income Tax Department.
  6. The platform features include best-of-breed e-commerce functionalities, such as Easy search, Price comparisons, Selection, Order placement, e-Bidding, Reverse auction, Demand-aggregation, Dynamic pricing by sellers/service providers amongst many more.


Impact Generated

GeM has rationalized the procurement processes, brought in complete transparency and traceability, reduced lead-time, enabled parallel auditing, and increased the overall effectiveness of procedures.

Successful roll out of GeM has impacted many facets of procurement policy and management, and demonstrated high value. At a policy level, a new service level of “Payment within 10 days of delivery and its acceptance” was introduced as a new Rule in the GFR to enable procurement through GeM. In a very short time, GeM has gained the confidence of multiple stakeholders, as seen from the high number of vendor and product registrations.

Within 120 days of launch, GeM has integrated 1,036 Government department-buyers, 2,580 sellers, 81 service providers, 8,270 products / services, and delivered 1,074 orders worth USD 16 million as of January 2017. GeM’s acceptance by various Government departmental buyers is a testimony of its success. Trends indicate that there will be bigger growth in procurement transactions with more Government-buyers, national and state, queuing up to be onboarded on GeM. The World Bank has permitted purchasing of up to USD 30,000 on GeM portal for bank-funded projects.

Above all, GeM is setting the benchmark for Government agencies to adopt usage of newer and faster technologies, even if it means borrowing from the private sector. It is a proud addition to the national repository of effective, transparent, user-friendly IT-based platforms that take the Digital India agenda forward to a digitally-empowered society and nation.

Scalability and Sustainability

GeM is conceptualized around generally acceptable / prudent financial rules in Government departments, making it easy to replicate, adopt, or adapt the solutions by any Government entity, be they from the central or state governments, PSUs, or autonomous-bodies. GeM’s architecture has been designed to make it easy to scale-up and up-scope, as it is modular. Functionalities of the portal have been so formatted to allow modification for use by other institutions or national states with minimal efforts, thereby reducing wastage. By doing this, GeM curbs the need for Government buyers starting individual e-solutions and seeks to bring them all under one roof of a universal procurement solution. GeM is developed as a full stack Open Source application platform and deploys effective load balancing and caching to make it a high-availability solution even during peak loads.

Lessons Learned

While a number of lessons came up during the design, development and deployment of GeM, the key lessons include:


  1. The architecture and technology stack for a solution like GeM needs to be agile to dynamically keep up with demands of both vendors and buyers. On an average, the team addresses about 250 queries per week.
  2. To build confidence in a buyer, concurrent oversight and auditing by competent agencies need to be enabled.
  3. To keep up with the pace of such e-solutions, there needs to be constant feedback and repetitive training sessions of levels that operate the system to ensure no inadvertent errors or erroneous decisions are taken. Buyers, vendors, and providers need training and continuous handholding on registering and on-boarding products.
  4. Any process-oriented application that generates documents needs to have a foolproof audit trail with an efficient document management system.