Navy eyes paperless purchasing process

“Knowing that I work
for SPAWAR, I always look forward to going to work,” Adriano said."





SAN DIEGO—In June, the Navy ended a 60-year tradition by saying
bell-bottom trousers for on-deck uniforms were out. In less than 60 days, another Navy
tradition will tumble, as paper-based procurement processes give way to electronic trials.


The man at the center of this, well, sea change, Manny Adriano, has remarkable
equanimity as the deadline nears.


“In this type of work, you have to be calm,” he said when asked whether the
pressure of a fast-approaching deadline kept him awake at night.


“I’m very confident that with the team here, we will hit target,” he
said.


Adriano is a computer specialist with the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems
Command, and his front-line responsibility is to change the way SPAWAR gets bids and lets
contracts.


The deadline for the change is Sept. 1.


The looming deadline is to bring the initial operating capability of the Defense
Department’s Standard Procurement System online at SPAWAR headquarters, followed by
rollouts to the agency’s three systems centers in Charleston, S.C., Chesapeake, Va.,
and San Diego.


The DOD initiative comes on the heels of Vice President Al Gore’s Reinventing
Government campaign, and its slogan is to have agencies “do more with less,”
Adriano said.


Adriano’s team consists of himself, his colleague Deborah Conti who works on the
administrative end of the project and representatives of other branches in the SPAWAR
Contracts Directorate.


When implemented, the system will support the work of 70 other people, he said.


The differences between the old and new systems are manifest to Adriano, who began his
federal career with an eight-year stint in the Coast Guard, the last three years of which
were spent at the Coast Guard Air Station in San Diego.


For most of his career, he was involved with purchasing and supply stocking. He saw the
results of the procurement process at the receiving end. He remembered using PCs and
dial-up modems to order parts from a Coast Guard facility in North Carolina.


After leaving the Coast Guard, he began his SPAWAR employment as part of the contracts
policy group, using his background as a contracts specialist to move into the information
technology area. “Having that experience helps me here,” Adriano said.


A typical day, if there is such a thing, starts with a review of e-mail followed by
voice mail, Adriano said, giving top priority to supporting the staff.


“You have to make sure you have answered all the users’ questions,”
Adriano said.


A meeting of the office’s integrated production team working group, which handles
the challenges of a specific computer production process, often follows the e-mail
rundown, he said.


Otherwise, it’s off to work on the Standard Procurement System, which occupies
about 80 percent of his time these days, he said.


The development work is handled on a workstation that occupies one part of his
workspace. It’s connected to a network serving SPAWAR’s IT section. At the other
end of his desk is the display for a standalone PC on which he develops Web pages used in
SPAWAR’s new procurement venture.


In the days of paper and postage, an organization such as SPAWAR would have procurement
information prepared by a contract specialist. The request for proposals would then be
sent to a bid office for distribution to a list of potential bidders. Interested vendors
would mail in bids.


Not every RFP would appeal to every contractor, so there would be a fair amount of
waste. And time spent exchanging information through the mail cut into the speed with
which needs could be met.


Today, the situation is changing. SPAWAR is moving its bid information to its Web site
at http://www.spawar.navy.mil. Available to contractors via a few mouse clicks, the site
makes it possible to see the contracts up for bid and choose one for which to develop a
proposal.


Adriano’s care for his users extends to SPAWAR Web site visitors.


Visitors to SPAWAR’s site can click on Business Opportunities to go directly to
the new page.


Organized at the top of the page is a menu of choices that includes active contracts,
open solicitations, future opportunities and small business points of contact.


The site also includes extras, such as a reminder to vendors to register their
companies with the Defense Department’s Central Contractor Registry. The site has a
link to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Web site that hosts the registry.
Clicking on the link takes a user to a page with directions on how to register, links to
forms and workbooks.


Adriano’s Web site users may not know his name, but they’ll want to thank him
for a search feature that lets them search active contracts, for example, by title, number
or description. It also lets users view all active Navy contracts.


The server hosting the information is protected by a firewall to prevent hacking,
Adriano said. Other security measures, which he declined to specify, also protect the data
posted by SPAWAR.


Encryption can be used to submit bids and keep the information secure until a
contracting officer sees the file.


The only frustrations he faces on the job, he said, are the heavy demands on bandwidth
common to all large organizations. His enjoyment at work comes from accomplishing
something new, he said.


“When this system is in place, everyone in contracts will generate [bid] documents
flawlessly,” he said.


The balance of Adriano’s day is spent maintaining internal and external Web sites
for the contracting unit. One recently showed a questionnaire to measure satisfaction with
new systems.


Filled out online and submitted via e-mail, the form drew 50 responses—a good rate
of return in a short period of time, said Janet Mescus, a public affairs officer with
SPAWAR.


Adriano relies on Microsoft Corp.’s FrontPage 98 to craft his pages.


He praised the program’s ability to display raw Hypertext Markup Language code as
part of the editing session.


He used to code his Web pages manually and uses the display in FrontPage to proof his
work before publishing it.


He uses graphics programs Adobe Publisher and CorelDraw to craft graphical elements for
the pages.


A portrait of Adriano would show a man who’s happy in his job, and, indeed, he
said he has no plans to leave.


“Knowing that I work for SPAWAR, I always look forward to going to work,” he
said.

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