GSA: Just wait 'til next (fiscal) year

The General Services Administration has decided to delay rolling out its

revamped online shopping portal until after the new fiscal year begins.

Bill Piatt, GSA's chief information officer, said the upgraded GSA Advantage

World Wide Web site will be delivered this month but will not be ready for

business until Oct. 2. "We're going to hold it so nothing brand new is introduced

in the high-buying season," he said.

The new GSA Advantage site, which cost about $4 million, will be easier

to use and more intuitive than the current one and will enable GSA to create

agency- specific virtual stores and add other personalized features, according

to GSA.

The agency will use the next seven weeks to thoroughly test and fine-tune

the site. "When we roll out in October, it will have been tested out the

wazoo and ready for prime time," said Al Iagnemmo, e-business division

director at GSA's Federal Supply Service.

Computer Technology Associates Inc., which designed the original GSA

Advantage site, teamed up on the new project with four other companies.

BroadVision Inc. provides front-end customization features; Sybase Inc.

provides integration with back-end systems; Verity Inc. provides the search

engine; and KPMG LLC provides support services.

Mark Phillips, CTA executive vice president, said he supported GSA's decision

to delay the launch, which he likened to commercial stores unveiling a new

purchasing vehicle the week before Christmas.

Advantage lists more than 1 million products from 2,300 vendors and

will conduct about $125 million in business in fiscal 2000, according to

Iagnemmo. He expects that number to reach $500 million in fiscal 2001 and

$1 billion the following year.

The new site enables GSA to set up "virtual stores" for agencies, and

the first one will be for the presidential transition team, Iagnemmo said.

"We're setting up their offices on the Hill, making credit card arrangements

and setting up the presidential transition team store so when they need

office products and computers, it will all be there for them," he said.

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