Defense rule pushes online billing

E.C. 'Pete' Aldridge Jr. wants electronic bills.

The Defense Department has published an interim rule in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement that requires contractors to submit payment requests electronically.

The rule requires that contractors use one of three Wide Area Workflow Receipt and Acceptance electronic forms to submit invoices and reports. The requirement supports President Bush's management agenda for e-government and complies with Section 1008 of the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act concerning electronic invoicing, Defense officials said.

Contractors are exempted from the rule if they are unable to submit, or DOD is unable to receive, a payment request in electronic format. But all three parties'the contracting officer, payment office and contractor'must agree to an alternative method.

'This revised exemption provides contracting officers the flexibility to [create] solutions to unique payment situations to ensure that contractors are paid on time for work they have performed,' the rule reads.

Before issuing the DFARS interim rule last month, two Defense executives'E.C. 'Pete' Aldridge Jr., undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Defense comptroller Dov S. Zakheim'sent out a memo calling for Defense agencies to quickly roll out use of the Wide Area Workflow forms. The forms will save DOD money, said Zakheim and Aldridge, who will retire late next month.

The Defense Contract Management Agency has been deploying the workflow system to vendors that have the greatest volume of monthly reports and invoices, as well as running pilots at a number of military posts.

Sites using the system have reported that it eliminates late payments and Defense interest penalties, reduces mailing time and expense, and eliminates the manual payment process, the memo said.

The department will accept public comments on the interim rule at emissary.acq.osd.mil/dar/dfars.nsf/pubcomm until April 22.

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