Navy merges paperless initiatives
- By Dan Verton
- Jun 19, 2000
The Navy has taken a major step toward simplifying its electronic procurement
process by combining the efforts of two major paperless contracting programs.
The merger brings together the Navy's Electronic Acquisition 21 (EA-21)
program and the Standard Procurement System (SPS) in what officials described
as a much-needed streamlining effort. The move also may provide trickle-down
benefits to the Defense Department's overall goal of creating a paperless
environment, officials said.
EA-21 is the Navy's umbrella program for modernizing the service's acquisition
systems, particularly contract writing, administration, finance and auditing.
Although widely criticized for its error-prone development process, SPS
has been earmarked to become the Defense Department's premier system for
automating the buying process for everything from uniforms to tanks. As
part of the merger, SPS will become the cornerstone system for EA-21's Navywide
Brian Reily, program manager for EA-21, will also manage the SPS Component Management Office. He said the idea to merge the two programs grew out of the mission to create a paperless contracting environment, but that officials had been hesitant to do so until more progress had been made on software
"Stability on the SPS front" presented the "perfect time" to combine the
two offices, Reily said. "It makes working all of the application interfaces
Some see the merger as a boon for the SPS program, which has a long history
of software development problems, delays and cost overruns.
"This will be better for Navy as well as DOD," said Gary Thurston, the SPS
program manager at the Defense Logistics Agency. "This combined office will
strengthen operational use of SPS as they educate the Navy procurement professionals
about paperless acquisition through the automated procurement processes
delivered with SPS."
Thurston added that the Army, Air Force and the Defense Contract Management
Agency already have merged their paperless programs with their SPS efforts
and said the mergers have helped to "streamline" the deployment process
of those systems.
"It always was a bit puzzling that they were separate," said one Navy contracting
officer. "The Navy now has put responsibility on making things work end
to end in a single office. I feel organizationally it is a good first step."