USDA automating schools' orders
- By Matt Caterinicchia
- Jul 02, 2002
The Agriculture Department plans to implement an online ordering system
for public school systems across the country by the end of this year.
The Electronic Commodity Ordering System (ECOS) will allow public school
systems to place, cancel or modify food orders online that would have had
to previously be done by phone or via paper mail order.
In the past, schools would put in orders to state agencies who would
then forward these orders to the USDA, said Les Johnson, the director of
the food distribution division for the USDA. "Now, we allow schools to put
orders in themselves. The schools will benefit by receiving better customer
service as well as eliminating the paperwork," he said.
Additionally, schools will have more direct involvement for what products
they are ordering and will be able to view order status information in a
matter of seconds, Johnson said.
ATG provided the software for the new system, appointed by EDS, which
was contracted by the USDA. "Our software provides the ability for personalized
views for individual states," said Donna Burnette, the national account
manager for ATG. "We will not have to be regulated by a standard federal
view with the new system," she said.
ECOS will also be able to disseminate information from the USDA to all
the school districts. For example, if the USDA finds out that a large amount
of distributed food had gone bad, officials would be able to alert the school
districts and advise them not to serve it.
The school districts do not need to remove any existing systems to run
ECOS. All they need is Internet access.
Four states are piloting ECOS: California, Connecticut, Illinois and
Virginia. However, the USDA will offer the system to the remaining 46 states