Army takes a giant step toward totally paperless contracting

Army takes a giant step toward totally paperless contracting

With DOD's Standard Procurement System deployed at most sites, service retires old buying system

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

The Army has retired its front-end procurement system after deploying the Defense Department's Standard Procurement System at more than 300 contracting sites.

Army forces in Europe are the last major users of the old Standard Army Acquisition Contracting System, said Gino Magnifico, an Army component manager.

A $9 million, 18-month effort with SPS contractor American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., fueled the Army's move toward paperless contracting. AMS holds its contract with the Defense Logistics Agency.

The Army, like its sister services, is working to replace paper-intensive buying practices with electronic ones. As part of that effort, users must convert from legacy service systems to the departmentwide SPS.

The Air Force has deployed SPS at 31 sites but is not ready to retire its Base Contracting Automated System, said Col. Andrew Gilmore, director of Air Force contracting information systems for the Standard Systems Group at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

The Air Force is waiting for AMS to add the Menu Assisted Data Entry II application, a contract writing function that contains 1,200 clauses from the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation, Gilmore said.

AMS has promised to include the application in SPS Version 5.0, Gilmore said. The current SPS version is 4.1; AMS plans to release Version 4.2 late this year and Version 5.0 by 2002.

SPS is based on Procurement Desktop-Defense (PD2), an AMS commercial product.

The Air Force expects to complete its SPS deployment by next summer, Gilmore said. The Air Force needs the extra time to convert to the new environment and to adjust to 'some gaps in business functionality,' he said.

The Navy, meanwhile, has deployed SPS at nearly 350 sites and retired its Automated Procurement and Data Entry System. The service had used APADE since 1986 [GCN, May 10, 1999, Page 43]. But most SPS users are not at full operating capability, according to estimates reported by the service late last year.

Magnifico predicted the Army would go to a totally paperless contracting environment for its back-end systems within six months, pending an agreement with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service about using electronic data distribution for contracts.

Twenty Army sites'most of them outside the continental United States'out of 339 have received temporary SPS waivers.

The exceptions were issued because the Army wants AMS to improve the system's ability to handle foreign currency information, Magnifico said. Training is also crucial.

'If users don't pick up the manual to transition from one program to another, it won't work,' said Magnifico, who works for the deputy assistant Army secretary for procurement, Kenneth L. Oscar.

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