Missouri Schools Activate EC 'Buy Board'

The Missouri School Board Association recently entered an agreement with Ambac Connect Inc., Austin, Texas, to establish the Missouri Purchasing Resource Center (PRC) Buy Board, an online catalog of pre-negotiated supplies, which can be accessed by 150 school districts.

"The Buy Board will act as an aggregation point for demand," said John Walters, Ambac's managing director of technology. Ambac is providing the service at no cost to the state and will instead collect a surcharge from vendors selling the more than 800,000 items offered on the World Wide Web-based catalog. For general information about the Buy Board, check out www.buyboard.com or www.msva.gen.mo.us, although use of the service is password-protected.

"The software and cost involved in establishing the system is free to the state. Payment for systems is ongoing as a transaction fee that is put in place by the sponsor," said Barbara Haynes, managing director of information services.

The Buy Board contains a search engine that presents users with groupings of items complete with pricing and contract information and delivery terms. "We're using a shopping basket metaphor to describe the application," said Walters, who added that the service is also designed to serve as an electronic commerce application that will allow local governments to maximize buying power. "Contracts can be electronically bid statewide instead of at the local level, which drives better prices than the local districts could get on their own."

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