NASA may set standard for Web business

A World Wide Web-based procurement system designed and used by NASA soon may become the single point of entry for information on governmentwide contracting opportunities, according to a report by the General Accounting Office.

First used in 1994 at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., NASA's Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS) expanded rapidly and in 1995 became the first agencywide procurement system on the Internet. The Web-based system includes electronic posting system (EPS) software, an online procurement reference library and e-mail notification of new procurement information posted on the site.

NAIS "is a simple, effective and user-friendly system for disseminating information on contract opportunities [and] may be considered for governmentwide expansion and designation as the single governmentwide point of entry for both notices and solicitations," the GAO report said.

According to GAO, the EPS software became the model for a multiagency procurement pilot project to study the feasibility of designing a single procurement gateway on the Internet for all government agencies. The current existence of more than 400 Web-based procurement sites "makes it difficult and time-consuming for contractors to obtain governmentwide information on contracting opportunities," according to GAO.

In a letter to GAO, Deidre A. Lee, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, called NAIS the "foundation" of the ongoing effort to identify a single governmentwide procurement system. "If successful, [NAIS] will provide easy access to...information from agencies across the government," Lee said. Lee also said results of current tests of the EPS system should be available in the next OMB report on electronic commerce to Congress.

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