Arizona advances e-buying system

Come fall, the state should be able to conduct evaluations and negotiate work contracts over the Internet

Beginning in November, vendors who do business with Arizona will be able

to deal with requests for proposals online, marking the beginning of the

end for a messy and time-consuming paper-based process.

Eventually, local governments, municipalities and other political entities

also will use the system to provide a statewide, one-stop "procurement community."

Arizona is not exactly new to aspects of electronic procurement. It

has had a Web-based system for the past 10 years through which vendors could

view and download RFPs and other documents. The new system will take this

to the next level, according to John Adler, the state's chief procurement

administrator.

"We'll be able to send and receive opportunities, conduct evaluations

and even negotiate work contracts over the Internet," he said. "The next

step will be to develop online catalogs and link contractors and others

into the Web site to form an electronic mall."

Development of that will start in 2002. Expansion of the system into

the enterprisewide procurement community will take up to two years, Adler

said.

Once completed, the system will dramatically reduce redundancies that

now exist. Minority and women-run businesses, for example, now have to register

at about 20 different sites throughout the state to do government business.

Once Arizona's procurement community is up and running, they'll only have

to register once because all participants in the procurement process — state

and local — will have access to a central database.

It essentially will create a cooperative through which everyone will

be able to work with each other in statewide procurement, Adler said.

Apex Software Inc., a Phoenix-based IT consulting company, is developing

the initial RFP stage of the system.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

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