Web not stirring this SEWP

NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement contract, a governmentwide purchasing vehicle for high-end workstations and peripherals, recently launched its third iteration and is one of the most successful federal contracts of its kind.

The last two SEWP contracts proved popular among government users of high-end Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT workstations. SEWP II, which ended in November, picked up about 1,000 orders each month. Over its four-year contract life, SEWP II sales totaled about $1.5 billion, said SEWP manager Joanne Woytek.

What may be surprising to some is that despite those impressive numbers and major government customers including the Army, SEWP does not have a Web-based ordering system in place and probably won't in the near future, Woytek said.

"There was never an emphasis on the Web because of the complex nature of our orders, which are high-end and require vendor/user interaction to ensure orders are complete," she said. "Because of all the challenges and because it may not always be appropriate, you need to target it where it works best, and [smaller] credit card orders is where it works best. Our average order is $60,000."

Some of SEWP's vendors are accepting small credit card orders online, but no hard numbers on those sales were available, Woytek said. She also said that if a government customer or vendor wants to use Web-based features, SEWP is open to that, and it is undoubtedly an issue that will be explored more deeply in the future.

Aiding that effort is a soon-to-be-released study commissioned by SEWP and performed by Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. that examines the major challenges involved with all areas of electronic procurement in the federal space. Woytek said the study should be released by the end of March and will serve as a "framework as we move forward. Our customers are asking SEWP to help lead the way, and that's why we're spending time and money on these studies: to lead the way," Woytek said.

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