Air Force rivals to join on e-buying

Two U.S. Air Force organizations often seen as competitors — ACCWay and CIT-PAD — are negotiating a joint proposal to integrate their unique capabilities and add an equipment-tracking system to the Air Force portal.

ACCWay is a division within the Air Combat Command that focuses on process re-engineering using information technology. The command buys most of its products through the Standard Systems Group's Commercial Information Technology-Product Area Directorate (CIT-PAD). CIT-PAD's main purpose is to buy commercial IT in big amounts, saving cash for its Air Force customers. The two are often seen — and have often seen themselves — as rivals in the electronic trade arena. But that's about to change. Col. Neal Fox, CIT-PAD director, and Col. Wayne Scott, chief of the ACCWay division, will meet Jan. 16 to discuss a plan drafted by Fox. Fox said the draft plan will cost an estimated $2 million and, if all parties agree, the plan ultimately will have to be approved by Lt. Gen. John Woodward, Air Force deputy chief of staff for communications and information.

"What Col. Fox and I hope to accomplish in mid-Jan. is to determine how to best blend CIT-PAD and ACCWay so the customer gets a streamlined process with reduced pricing on the widest range of products and services — the best of both approaches," Scott said.

Fox's plan calls for forming a system, tentatively named the Information Technology Standard System (ITSS), to tie together the ACCWay requirements process, the CIT-PAD electronic commerce system, and the Inventory Purchasing Management System, which will track the purchased systems throughout their life cycles. ITSS also will be tied to the planned Air Force portal, "the glue that ties together all electronic business and electronic commerce," Fox said.

The plan's estimated cost includes development, integration and help-desk support, but the program office would have to pay for the tracking system, estimated at $250,000 per year. ITSS is expected to provide an Air Force-wide electronic business and e-commerce solution for buying commercial information technology products and services. Service officials eye a July start-up.

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