Air Force stresses strategy over IT

Setting up a new electronic procurement system for the Air Force "isn't

about tools, IT, hot links or cool sites," Brig. Gen. Stanley Sieg said

in a briefing to government contractors last week.

Instead, he added, it's about a procurement strategy that uses information

technology to facilitate paperless purchasing, speed delivery of equipment

to support Air Force missions and save taxpayers money. Sieg was speaking

at the InfoTech 2000 conference in Dayton, Ohio.

Sieg is the new director of contracting for the Air Force Materiel Command

at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. The day after taking the

post two months ago, he was assigned the monumental task of planning what's

essentially an electronic-business program for the Air Force.

Many enterprise resource planning vendors have tried to sell their wares

to the Air Force, Sieg said. He stressed that although he's all for off-the-shelf

applications instead of designing an electronic-procurement system from

scratch, it would be a mistake to buy and implement a program without a

strategy that sets a context for that system's use.

Sieg said the new electronic-procurement plan, which hasn't been finalized,

will be sent up the chain of command for approval before the end of the

year.

Traditionally, he said, procurement has been a serial process made up

of soliciting, awarding and managing vendor contracts. In this approach,

he noted, "what's measured is the number of pages [of the contract]."

The endgame for electronic procurement, according to Sieg, won't be

just the promise of delivery, but physical delivery of the right material

at the right time and at less cost.

"The idea is to get the airplane part to the guy who turns the wrench

to install it, so the pilot who flies it can fulfill a mission," Sieg said.

He called the concept a "value-chain" approach to procurement, and said

being a fast follower of existing technologies — instead of inventing new

ones — was key to implementing an electronic-procurement plan in a timely

manner.

If approved, the electronic-procurement plan would be rolled out over

three years, Sieg said.

Distributed by IDG News Service.

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