D.C. offices can now buy supplies online

The District's Sandy Lazar says the e-procurement system went live without a hitch.

Henrik G. de Gyor

The District of Columbia brought its $71.5 million e-procurement system online last month for 254 users who work for the chief technology officer and the city's contract procurement office.

The system will save the city about $34 million a year, said Sandy Lazar, director of key systems for the CTO. Savings will come from better contract terms and the elimination of paper exchanges between people and departments, he said.

The e-procurement system is one piece of the District's Administrative Services Modernization Program. ASMP, launched last year, is running on schedule and under budget, Lazar said.

'The prettiest sound in all of IT is the sound of silence,' he said. 'That's what happened when we went live.' In the first week, the system processed $4.1 million worth of requisitions.

The first transaction, on a Saturday, was an order for a printer. It was delivered by Tuesday. Paper-based procurement would have taken three weeks from order approval to receipt, Lazar said.

Funds committed

When someone requisitions an item, the e-procurement system spends six seconds checking to see if there's enough money in the account.

Then it commits the funds so that nobody else can spend them, Lazar said.
The city is scheduled to roll out e-procurement in three more offices today: Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and the Corrections Department. The system is slated to be deployed at all 56 city agencies by year's end.

Lazar said all the ASMP modules should be finished by mid-2005, including human resources, budget and planning, payroll, time and attendance, property management, and pension and benefits administration. The remaining 18 months of the five-year contract will be spent on maintenance and support, he said. Fifty vendors are working on ASMP along with 300 city employees, Lazar said.

The modernization vendors include Accenture LLP of New York, which provided the technical infrastructure; Ariba Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., which supplied application software; Keane Consulting Group of Boston, which is working with District employees on program management; SeeBeyond Technology Corp. of Monrovia, Calif., the software integrator; and Unisys Corp., the procurement system implementer.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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