Interior pushes procurement software agencywide

Interior Department officials this month began an agencywide rollout of a Windows-based desktop software application to automate procurement reducing paperwork and making it easier for employees in remote areas to get supplies faster.

The software Procurement Desktop developed by American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax Va. allows anyone involved in the procurement process - from park rangers to program managers and contracting officers to high-ranking department officials - to electronically fill out the forms needed to acquire goods or services from basic requisition forms to full-blown requests for proposals. The electronic forms can then be passed up the procurement hierarchy over local- or wide-area networks.

Procurement Desktop also will be compatible with other AMS software already in use by Interior. The existing software used for financial management and accounting is part of a suite of software tools called Momentum of which Procurement Desktop is a part. The compatibility will offer greater integration between accounting activity and procurement activity at the department [FCW March 31].

Later this year AMS expects to add an Internet feature to the software and the department will be able to include more people in the automated procurement process making the software available to Interior employees who may be working in remote areas but have Internet access.

The software could find its way onto the desktop of any Interior employee involved in the procurement process according to Dick Comerford chief of the Washington Administrative Service Center the Interior office that oversees the automated procurement and financial management project. As many as 8 000 desktops could be equipped with the software.

"The intent is to have everybody have access to the requisition model " said Zipora Brown a vice president with the Management Systems and Technology unit at AMS.

The center processes financial information for the House of Representatives the Federal Trade Commission and the Patent and Trademark Office among other agencies. The license Interior is buying covers its service to other agencies. The cost of the license during five years is close to $10 million.

The AMS software replaces a DOS-based application Interior had been running. The DOS application a CACI Inc. product put into place by Price Waterhouse is not as easy to use as the Windows-based product that Interior is buying from AMS Comerford said.

"As soon as we got in there with the character-based [DOS] system...a lot of the users started to say `Hmmm Why don't we have Windows?' " said Harry Quast executive vice president for business development at CACI.

Interior officials expect the Windows environment to be more easily accepted. "The marketplace out there is a Windows-based culture " said Quast whose company submitted its Windows-based procurement software called Sacons for Interior's consideration.

Sacons is already being used by agencies including the Education and State departments the General Services Administration the Army the Navy and the Small Business Administration. CACI claims a 40 percent market share for automated procurement software in the federal market.

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