DOD blueprint details paperless contracting

The Defense Department has drafted a blueprint for achieving a paper-free contracting
process by 2000.


DOD has relied on labor-intensive paper methods to handle the writing, administration
and finances for contracts.


The department's buying process often involves the manual and repetitive input of data
from multiple sources across DOD.


Deputy Defense secretary John Hamre launched the latest effort to go paperless when he
was still DOD comptroller. In a May 21 memo, he directed the undersecretary of Defense for
acquisition and technology to develop a blueprint for a paper-free contracting process in
coordination with other DOD organizations.


The original due date for the blueprint was July 1. But the deadline slipped to July 25
to accommodate specific information on the department's existing contracting and financial
systems.


A team led by the Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support Office drafted the
blueprint and sent it to Hamre for review.


But he has not yet approved the plan.


Hamre again expanded the scope of the initial effort to include DOD's logistics
organizations. The revised initiative now seeks to implement a paper-free acquisition
process by Jan. 1, 2000.


"This blueprint envisions a contracting environment that builds upon ongoing
electronic information initiatives and emerging technologies to ensure the integrity of
information as it is developed, managed and utilized throughout the contracting
lifecycle," the draft blueprint said.


The draft incorporates business process re-engineering initiatives such as purchase
cards, electronic catalogs, electronic commerce and imaging.


The CALS team that drafted the blueprint found that there were no known technical
barriers to implementing a paperless contracting process throughout DOD.


"Of course electronic commerce is one of the key areas because it encompasses
electronic catalogs and doing business over the World Wide Web," said Ann Barnes,
chairwoman of the blueprint team. "This includes all of the electronic malls and
electronic bulletin boards that the services, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense
Information Systems Agency have stood up."


One of the electronic commerce initiatives highlighted in the draft blueprint is a
Defense Finance and Accounting Service program. DFAS' Electronic Document Access project
lets DOD users share contract documents via the Internet.


Several DOD procurement systems are using EDA--including the Navy's Integrated
Technical Item Management Procurement System and the Army's Procurement Automated Data and
Document System--for vendor payments and contracts administered by the Mechanization of
Contract Administration Services.


DOD offices now handle about 22 percent of MOCAS payments using electronic documents
available on EDA. Other Defense agencies are testing EDA and incorporating it into their
computer systems.


DOD officials said a paper-free contracting environment will increase electronic
commerce, cut procurement lead times, help with late contract payments and decrease
unmatched disbursements.


"When executed and managed, this electronic contracting environment will allow
global, secure access to contractual and financial information for all functional areas of
the DOD procurement process," the draft blueprint said.


The new contracting process will comply with the Global Combat Support System, the
Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment, the Joint Technical
Architecture and statutory and DOD requirements for information protection.


The draft identified the state of automated systems and electronic interfaces within
the four functional areas of contract writing, administration, finance and auditing. There
are nine major and 10 minor DOD contracting systems and more than 198 financial systems
that provide contract payment.


The Air Force's Base Contracting Automated System and the Army's Standard Army
Automated Contracting System process data for about two-thirds of DOD procurements. But
DOD will replace all existing DOD procurement systems with the Standard Procurement System
at more than 800 contracting sites by 2000.


SPS merges DOD's two basic procurement functions: contract award and administration.
The system is designed to provide more timely responses to customer requests, permit more
cost-effective procurements, improve visibility of contract deliverables, reduce
procurement lead times and provide more accurate information.


DOD also plans to create a central data warehouse of contracting data using SPS to
eliminate manual data entry and ease information exchange in the acquisition process.


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