OMB report urges agencies to use commercial EC products

As expected, the Office of Management and Budget this week sent Congress a strategic plan for electronic commerce that encourages agencies to take advantage of new technologies such as the Internet.

The report, "Electronic Commerce for Buyers and Sellers: A Strategic Plan for Electronic Federal Purchasing and Payment," recommends that by 2001 all federal agencies use commercial, off-the shelf EC products to conduct end-to-end transactions so that doing business with the government becomes easier and faster.

The plan, which was drafted by the President's Management Council's Electronic Processes Initiatives Committee, was developed in response to a requirement in the Defense Department's 1998 Reauthorization Act.

Government-unique EC systems "will be developed only as a last resort for low-volume transaction activity, where industry has not invested in platforms to provide commercial services," the report noted.

The plan lists seven principles that agencies should follow to make the transition to EC. The principles include outsource transaction processing, taking advantage of commercial applications and making the buying and paying process more efficient.

In addition, the plan lays out "building blocks" necessary to achieve large-scale EC. The building blocks include the wider use of electronic catalogs as well as security services that authenticate buyers and sellers on the Internet.

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