Army upgrading MarketPlace Direct

Army Small Computer Program

The Army Small Computer Program (ASCP) recently selected Appian Corp. to enhance its MarketPlace Direct system.

MarketPlace Direct is a governmentwide, Internet-based e-commerce solution that enables customers to identify, evaluate, and purchase products and services against established information technology contract vehicles.

The ASCP MarketPlace Direct is designed to improve purchasing practices, reduce transaction costs and improve the overall customer experience, according to Marian Keitelman, MarketPlace Direct product leader for the ASCP.

The enhanced solution, which can be used by the Defense Department and other federal agencies and for foreign military sales, will include a full range of products and services from hardware, software and peripheral products, to networking and infrastructure services.

"It is a refinement/improvement over our existing ASCP MarketPlace Direct and ASCP Web site," Keitelman said. "It will offer the latest technology, have a more commercial flavor and provide enhanced features."

The current task order, which was awarded to Appian earlier this month, should take about six months to complete, she said. The task order is worth more than $1 million and includes software, hardware and consulting services, according to a spokesman for Vienna, Va.-based Appian.

Appian also built the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) portal, and MarketPlace Direct is being built using an open, standards-based J2EE architecture, which will seamlessly integrate with the portal. AKO provides Army news, distance-learning opportunities, e-mail accounts, a search engine, chat capabilities and an enterprise collaboration center for service staff worldwide.

"An Army customer with an AKO account will be able to take advantage of a seamless log-in into the ASCP site," Keitelman. "This means that the AKO registered user will automatically be registered into our site [and] a profile will be established. The new site will have faster access and response times than what is experienced today."

Other benefits envisioned for the new MarketPlace Direct system include:

* Streamlining credit card and paper purchasing processes.

* Ensuring standardization and interoperability using the latest technology.

* Full and open competition.

* Value-added support and affordable pricing.

"An emphasis of the new system is to provide better data to the user," Keitelman said. "This enhanced system will set the stage for paperless orders. The system will allow credit card purchases online, as well as a vehicle to turn a shopping cart into an approved purchase form." The enhanced system also will enable customers to interact directly with ASCP and vendors to request quotes, obtain configuration assistance and review order status. The e-commerce solution also will automatically generate a purchase request sent via e-mail to the approving official, according to Appian. Appian is partnering with GTSI Corp. on the production of the enhanced MarketPlace Direct solution.

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