Government, industry conclude catalog pilot

Federal agencies and vendors on Monday celebrated the conclusion of a pilot

project that showed how different, proprietary online catalogs could interoperate.

The government catalog interoperability pilot demonstrated that it is

technically feasible for government users to search, order and pay for products

offered in different online catalogs.

Industry consortium CommerceNet, along with NASA, the General Services

Administration, the Defense Department, Office Depot, Staples, American

Management Systems, eFed, NDS Americas and others, participated in phase

two of the catalog interoperability pilot, which ended this month.

During phase two of the pilot, users were authenticated via a smart

card and were able to search across different online catalogs for notebooks,

printers and office supplies in a secure environment established through

Virtual Private Network tunnels. Buyers were able to order the products

using government purchase cards.

The first phase of the pilot, completed last year, laid the foundation

for this phase by using Extensible Mark-Up Language as the standard for

describing data stored in catalogs and used in business transactions. The

next step, said Ron Parsons, director of Public Sector Alliances at CommerceNet,

is to develop a set of policies and programs that will move agencies toward

using open, interoperable standards for buying and paying.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP plans to release its findings on the pilot

project in late April.

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