County uses portal for procurement

Oakland County, Mich., has chosen PeopleSoft Inc.'s "source-to-settle" solution for its first stab at a fully online procurement system, an approach that also will provide it with a one-stop portal to deliver other government services.

The county (www.co.oakland.mi.us) has had a presence on the Internet for some years for internal communications and external contact with constituents, said Ed Poisson, Oakland's deputy director of management and budget. It also had been involved in developing an extensive geographic information system (GIS), and at least parts of that had to be made available to the public.

"We looked for the most cost-efficient ways of doing that, to both increase access and to improve efficiencies," Poisson said. "Procurement is a big part of that. We've done e-mailing before [for bid notifications], but we wanted a true e-market."

Oakland officials also wanted a way to enable municipalities to better exploit the county's procurement contracts. They can do that now, but the hassle of the involved paperwork makes it worthwhile only for the largest contracts, Poisson explained, and going online would enable municipalities to use the smaller contracts also.

After an open bidding process, the advantages of going with PeopleSoft became obvious, according to Poisson. The county had been using PeopleSoft solutions for years to run its human resources department, and the advantage of a suite solution that would also include procurement and financial processes was "sizable" from a cost perspective, he said.

Another advantage is that the PeopleSoft system provides a Web portal for the procurement system that can also be used as a Web-based "single access point" for delivering other government information, and as the public front-end of the GIS.

Implementation of the portal and a single sign-on system will begin in January 2003, Poisson said, with a goal to bring the procurement process and other government systems online within two years.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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