State's homegrown buying system spans the globe

Last year, department officials posted 71 solicitations on the system, which processed $24.4 million worth of transactions.

'State's Daniel J. Walt

Henrik G.de Gyor

'The thing about a lot of those General Services Administration schedule contracts is that they don't always deliver everywhere on Earth. So when you are out in Bangui, Africa, your options may be rather limited.'

And government offices in Bangui or Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, or Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, for instance, need to be able to buy IT services as well as software and hardware, added Daniel J. Walt, e-commerce program manager for the State Department.

That's why State has its own online buying service. The StateBuy Interactive Platform, or SIP, lets 127 government users at remote locations around the globe communicate with 2,095 industry users who can post electronic responses to solicitations. About 2,000 additional industry users also receive e-mail-only notification for selected categories of buys.

Last year, State officials posted 71 solicitations on the system, which processed $24.4 million worth of transactions.

Department officials also use SIP to advise vendors that they have received products and to carry out contract administrative tasks, such as posting solicitation modifications, Walt said. Next, State plans to integrate SIP with GSA's solicitation portal, FedBizOpps.

'The idea here is that the user will be able to essentially click on an extra button and automatically send [procurement information] over to FedBizOpps,' Walt said.
State officials are considering other upgrades to SIP:
  • Adding a public-key infrastructure to govern access

  • Adding an electronic file folder to eliminate processing contracts on paper

  • Linking SIP to the Defense Logistics Agency's Central Contract and Registration database in Battle Creek, Mich., which stores vendor data.

State officials set up the procurement system six years ago, and through an agreement with the Army Communications and Electronics Command's Acquisition Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J., have upgraded it several times. Features include a market research capability, a new home page and automatic e-mail notification of contractor questions and answers.

CECOM hosts the system on State's intranet behind the Defense Intelligence Agency firewall. Users access SIP via browsers.

Tech stats

CECOM contractor Data Systems Analysts Inc. of Pennsauken, N.J., provides contractor support for SIP, which resides on a Compaq ML370 server running Lotus Domino Server Version 5.09a under Microsoft Windows 2000. The system uses 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer encryption.

State paid CECOM $30,000 to administer SIP in fiscal 2002. Last year, the systems modifications bumped up the maintenance costs but Walt estimated it still cost State less than $100,000.

State Procurement Executive Office officials control access to SIP by reviewing applications to obtain passwords.

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