Navy e-business office asks for ideas and gets a flood of them

Navy e-business office asks for ideas and gets a flood of them

New NAVSUP operations office will evaluate electronic-commerce technologies to find applications

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

When officials at the Navy's new eBusiness Operations Office called for proposals for pilot projects early last month, they didn't know what to expect.

They were inundated. Within three weeks, more than 300 proposals for Web-based applications had poured in via the eBusiness office's home page, at www.don-ebusiness.navsup.navy.mil.

'The response was really overwhelming,' said Rear Adm. Keith Lippert, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command in Mechanicsburg, Pa., which runs the eBusiness Operations Office.

The office will spend about $20 million to evaluate the latest electronic-commerce technologies and determine how those technologies can improve business procedures throughout the Navy.

'The idea is to go out into the private sector and see what good ideas are there and use those ideas for applications that would have the highest return on investment for us,' Lippert said.

Navy officials want to finance and assess an array of Internet pilots, including those that enhance training and education programs, personnel management and benefit initiatives, and procurement and logistics processes.

Quality of life

They also want to encourage the development of applications that would improve the Navy's quality-of-life programs'for example, making life easier for sailors on the move.

'If you spend a career in the Navy you're going to move many, many times,' Lippert said. 'When you move, you have to go to a movement-of-household-goods office and fill out all kinds of paperwork. We're looking at a prototype where all of that can be done online.'

Lippert said the office will begin funding pilots early next year but added that it was too soon to say how many projects would be funded.

Once they approve a pilot, eBusiness officials will expect vendors to quickly demonstrate its practicability'generally within 90 days or less.

'This is an exciting opportunity to immediately initiate projects that have potential to improve the quality of work or life, to save money or to reduce infrastructure,' said Rear Adm. Linda Bird, NAVSUP vice commander and director of the eBusiness office.

Hub for e-business

The office is accepting ideas for future funding consideration beyond the Nov. 30 deadline for the initial pool of proposals.

'I'm hoping this $20 million will be an annual allotment for us to continue on with these ideas,' Lippert said.

The Navy launched the eBusiness Operations Office about two months ago to create a hub for all of the department's electronic business activities.

The new office is intended to serve as 'catalyst and enabler for implementing e-business' programs, Navy officials said.

'We really needed a central place to foster good ideas and get the ideas out there so that we didn't have to re-create the wheel in the many different applications throughout the Navy,' Lippert said.

NAVSUP is the locus of many of the Navy's core business processes.

'We regard ourselves as the business managers of the Navy,' Lippert said, adding that NAVSUP already has been driving a series of e-business initiatives.

Credit card operations

The office also will manage all of the Navy's credit card operations and electronic transactions.

'What we're doing is taking all these cards and centralizing them in one office with the objective of improving the management of the whole process,' Lippert said.

Once the NAVSUP office is fully staffed later this month, it will have a crew of nine civilian and four military employees with additional support from about 50 contractors, he said.

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