E-buying benefits may edge agencies closer

While government agencies will each construct their own interface into the newly-adopted e-procurement system, the e-government unit believes the benefits gained will persuade the agencies to adopt "best practice" standards says unit head Brendan Boyle.

While government agencies will each construct their own interface into the newly-adopted e-procurement system, the e-government unit believes the benefits gained will persuade the agencies to adopt “best practice” standards and move closer to one another in their style of procurement, says unit head Brendan Boyle.

The e-procurement facility, initially run as a four-month pilot (see Govt gets cheap e-procurement), will be constructed by Oracle and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. The base technology is Oracle’s procurement intelligence services suite.

CGEY’s role in the contract is specifically to help the agencies establish an interface to the common system, tying it to their financials and “providing basic training”, says CGEY Asia-Pacific vice-president David Stewart.

The impression was gained last week from e-government unit procurement specialist Greg Nicholls that such help had been trimmed as part of an effort to contain the costs of the contract — a factor long rumoured. Nicholls emphasises, however, that considerable help will still be available.

The cost of the CGEY side of this aid will be met as part of the $7.5 million contract price, he says, but each agency will have to pay for its own side of this effort.

The application provides all standard e-procurement functionality, Nicholls says: aggregating suppliers' catalogues, allowing orders, invoicing and goods receipt acknowledgment to be done screen-to-screen, or to email or fax for those suppliers less well equipped technologically. Workflow for authorisation of requisitions where necessary will also be provided.

Suppliers will be able to load their catalogues into the Oracle procurement application or business-to-business marketplace software, Exchange — most will be maintained in the latter — and update them, without the purchaser having to “punch out” a request to the catalogue on the supplier’s system.

Different agencies’ purchases will not be visible to one another, but there will be a group of central procurement managers who will organise syndicated procurement among agencies to raise volumes and lower prices.

The system will run on Compaq Tru64 hardware, managed by Datacom at one of its data centres.

User authentication will be by identifier and password; the application is not considered sensitive enough to require digital certificates.

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