Magazine article National Defense

E-Malls Offer Defense Buyers Full Span of Product Options

Magazine article National Defense

E-Malls Offer Defense Buyers Full Span of Product Options

Article excerpt

Program office opens to promote electronic catalogs, paperless purchasing environment

Cyberspace commerce, by the year 2002, could make up as much as $327 billion or 2.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

These figures, reported by Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, point to the expanding role of electronic commerce in today's society.

The Defense Department, which is one of the world's largest buyers of goods and services, is now beginning to capitalize on this booming technology. The Pentagon's goal is to cut back on paper use and run its operations more efficiently.

Last June, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre kicked off Electronic Commerce Day with the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office (JECPO). The office, which is run by Lt. Gen. Henry T. Glisson, USA, director of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and Lt. Gen. David J. Kelley, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, seeks paperless purchasing throughout the Defense Department. Officials also want to establish a paperless contracting process by January 1, 2000.

In Cohen's Defense Reform Initiative, he emphasized the department's aim to augment the use of electronic catalogs or electronic shopping malls. JECPO officials-members of the defense business and technology communities-plan to help customers learn about their buying options.

"The Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office will help to take defense business operations into the 21st century in addition to improving efficiency and reducing costs," said Hamre. "By capitalizing on `the revolution in business affairs,' we can help pay for the `revolution in military affairs' and expand the use of electronic catalogs and electronic shopping malls."

Electronic catalogs, said officials, provide pre-established contracts, a means for a customer to identify and order goods from one or more agencies, and sufficient information to compare items.

Catalogs can be read-only product listings, directories of intra- and interagency catalogs, electronic catalogs with on-line ordering, and "e-malls" with search engines, officials affirmed.

The Defense Department has initiated several on-line stores such as the DLA Electronic Mall, the Army's AMart, the Navy information technology electronic commerce (ITEC) program for computer equipment, the Air Force Country Store, General Services Administration (GSA) Advantage! for office supplies, and ecweb.net.

Officials expect Internet purchasing to diminish logistics response time, reduce DLA inventory, and support logistics planning.

Electronic Shopping Malls

The Defense Department, last January, launched its Internet-based electronic shopping mall-referred to as the DOD EMall.

Located on the World Wide Web at http://www.emall.dla.mil, the mall offers authorized government users information on products, prices, availability, and delivery options for items in DLA inventory or merchandise from vendors who participate in the program. Eligible vendors are those who are currently under indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract and those who successfully respond to DLA Supply Center solicitations.

At the e-mall directory page, browsers can shop by item or category by clicking on their preference. Options include reutilization, clothing, medical, subsistence, information technology, aviation and space, maritime, combat vehicles, automotive and rail, machinery and equipment, facilities and construction, hardware, communicationelectronics, and raw/fabricated material.

When a specific category is selected, the browser can conduct a item query or detailed search for a specific piece of equipment by specifying manufacturer, desired price, part number, and shelf life. The browser can also conduct less specific searches.

If the browser chooses combat vehicles as his category, for example, he can choose the detailed search or click on a category such as "gears, pulleys, sprockets, and transmission chain," or "tractors, wheeled," or "vehicular furniture and accessories. …

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