DOD center test drives Oracle Financials

The Defense Energy Support Center, the agency responsible for providing global fuel energy support to the Defense Department, recently began testing Oracle Corp.'s Financials software as part of an enterprisewide effort to reinvent the agency's business processes.

The official use of Oracle Financials Release 10.7 is targeted for spring or early summer, pending successful test results. It will support up to 600 distributed sites and about 1,000 users. When fully fielded in 2000, the Oracle solution will provide DESC with a single, integrated management system for managing and tracking point-of-sale transactions, inventory control, the distribution of goods and materials, and financial accounting.

"There isn't one integrated enterprise system that provides DESC [with] this kind of visibility," said Steven Perkins, senior vice president of Oracle Federal. Historically, the agency has relied on a number of home-grown systems to accomplish the functions mentioned above, Perkins said.

From its headquarters on the grounds of Fort Belvoir, Va., DESC manages the purchase, storage and distribution of more than $5 billion worth of DOD bulk fuel products, including petroleum, coal, natural gas and electricity. In addition to handling roughly 30 million electronic transactions per year, DESC managed the distribution of more than 52 million gallons of fuel products during military operations in Bosnia alone.

The Oracle upgrade project is designed to help the agency "get away from our old batch mainframe systems that were built in the late 1970s" and originally were designed to handle only wholesale transactions, said Hank Marrangoni, director of DESC's information systems directorate. However, with the addition of retail sales requirements, "the transaction level increased exponentially," forcing DESC to formulate a detailed modernization and long-term technology investment strategy, Marrangoni said.

The Oracle Financials project is part of a larger DESC program to field an enterprisewide automated information system and modernize the way the agency does business. Through the Fuels Automated System (FAS) program, DESC plans to insert information technologies into the enterprise as a means of increasing fuel accountability, improving user database queries and real-time information sharing, enhancing business practices and streamlining financial management.

Oracle Financials is a suite of applications designed to provide enterprises with a common, integrated picture of a host of functions, including billing and cash collection, expenditure and cash management, asset management, financial analysis and financial planning.

Although the pilot project started out using Release 10.7 of Oracle Financials, Oracle has assumed responsibility for upgrading DESC's system as new versions of the software become available, according to Perkins. "This is a very good example of what it is going to take to get [commercial off-the-shelf deployments] done in the federal government," Perkins said. "We share equal responsibility [and] stand shoulder to shoulder" with DESC, he said.

According to Perkins, the tight partnership between the Oracle team and DESC is the type of business model that the company prefers to use whenever it tackles projects that require thinking and planning on an enterprise scale. The DESC project, for example, "requires a fundamental rethinking of how they are going to do business," Perkins said.

Teaming with Oracle on the FAS project is Coggins Systems Inc., the company that developed the FuelsManager line of software products that are used as the baseline for the DESC automated system. The FAS solution includes software modules that support automated requests for fuel, flight-line management for tanker aircraft, asset management and other segments. Officials from Coggins could not be reached for comment.

MORE INFO

DEFENSE ENERGY SUPPORT CENTER

Expected Project Profile* 600 sites* 1,000 users

Key Management Requirements* Point-of-sale transactions* Inventory control* Distribution of goods and materials * Financial accounting

BY DANIEL VERTON
March 08, 1999

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