Funding essential for EPS enhancements

The General Services Administration plans to use part of a $2.1 million fiscal 2001 funding request to keep the momentum going for a system that provides vendors online access to governmentwide business opportunities.

The Internet-based Electronic Posting System (EPS) enables agencies to electronically post synopses and solicitations, provides vendors a single point of entry to business opportunities and sends companies e-mail notifications related to specific areas of business interest. More than 15 agencies already use the service, located at www.eps.gov.

EPS was developed by NASA and redesigned by GSA for governmentwide use. The Office of Management and Budget is considering EPS as industry's single point of entry into the world of government business opportunities.

Last year, GSA requested, but did not receive, $2.1 million in funding to help support EPS development. This year it asked for $2.1 million for electronic commerce infrastructure development, part of which it plans to use to keep EPS going. Some of the money would also go toward improving the electronic grants process.

"The 2000 budget hurt us," said Mary Mitchell, deputy associate administrator of GSA's Office of Electronic Commerce. "We were counting on that to help us scale [EPS], and it didn't happen." It is difficult to fund a governmentwide project out of policy shop, Mitchell said, adding, "We don't want it to be stalled."

Without fiscal 2001 funding, there is no guarantee that further EPS development —development that would make it ready for governmentwide use — would occur. "Agencies are tired of passing the hat," Mitchell said. Ultimately, EPS should be self-sustaining, she said.

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