E-procurement biz gets first customer

The Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments has signed on as the first

customer of a new company formed by Bank of America Corp. and NIC Commerce

that offers online procurement services to state and local governments.

Banc of America Purchase Street LLC will provide the H-GAC with online

purchasing, payment and reconciliation services through December 2005, said

Dave Fishman, vice president of marketing at NIC Commerce, speaking Tuesday

at the E-Gov trade show in Washington, D.C.

The H-GAC cooperative purchasing program helps more than 1,100 local

governments buy more than $150 million annually in products ranging from

fire trucks to radios. The H-GAC researches and prepares specifications,

solicits and evaluates bids and proposals, and recommends contract awards

to the board of directors, which is composed of 33 local elected officials.

"This is the first win between NIC Commerce and Bank of America in the

state and local space, and it really validates our partnership model," Fishman

said. "We provide the upfront money to build the site out and then they

purchase through it."

Under the H-GAC agreement, Bank of America will provide payment and

other financial services while NIC Commerce will provide the electronic

procurement software, manage catalog content and secure server-hosting services.

Normally, a government can expect implementation within three months

of signing a contract, but the H-GAC will take a bit longer because of the

large number of data sources involved and the inconsistencies that go along

with that, Fishman said. "We should implement at least the beta by the end

of the year."

NIC Commerce also announced Tuesday that it won a contract to provide

the e-procurement solution for PlanetGov.com to enable Web-based transactions.

The software will be customized to maintain the same look and feel as the

other parts of the PlanetGov.com site, and it will interface with its order

entry system and data repository.

"PlanetGov.com could have gone with other companies, but they were looking

for expertise in the public sector, and we have 65 to 70 full-time employees

at NIC Commerce devoted to the public sector," Fishman said.


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