NASA adopts electronic forms, workflow to manage closeouts of its subcontracts

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has installed electronic forms and workflow
software to simplify closing out its subcontracts.

The Pasadena, Calif., lab works with scores of aerospace and information technology
subcontractors, said Francine Fisher, a member of JPL’s Acquisition Division.
Operated by the California Institute of Technology, JPL is NASA’s lead center for
robotic exploration of the solar system.

Closing out a subcontract involves multiple approvals from acquisition, audit, patent,
property utilization and security personnel. These persons must make sure that the
subcontractor fulfilled the terms of the contract, that JPL paid the correct fee, and that
the company disposed of or returned any government property, Fisher said.

In addition, JPL security officials must approve any use of classified information.
Contractors must provide a release of claims, and JPL officials must make certain the
subcontractor has fulfilled the deliverables and tasks called for by the contract, Fisher

In February, JPL set out to automate the complex process with three JetForm Corp. forms
products under a contract with Workflow Partners and Technologies Inc. of Burlingame,

JPL is using InTempo 3.0, Filler Pro 5.01 and JetForm Design 5.1, Fisher said.

The software license includes a document management system and costs $14,000, she said.

InTempo’s organization builder lets administrators create and maintain an employee
database and define the workflow tasks and actions. A software agent routes transactions
via e-mail.

“The software is meeting our requirements” for reducing human effort and
paperwork, Fisher said.

Most JPL users access the close-out system via its intranet, based on Novell NetWare
3.12. Using Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers, the users approve
and check off Java forms attached to e-mail sent to them via Eudora Pro from Qualcomm Inc.
of San Diego.

The most regular users, who eventually will total 90, must use Internet Explorer and
log on to the intranet to use a more extensive document management system based on
JetForm, Fisher said.

JPL personnel scanned some forms into the document management system and created others
in JetForm, mostly working under Microsoft Windows 95 and NT Workstation 4.0, Fisher


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