An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
What if you could cut the cost of processing a federal procurement to a few dollars? What if you could order furniture, computers, supplies, and services from your computer--and ordering was as easy as using the home shopping channel? What if you could also pick up the phone and negotiate a volume discount directly with vendors?
You can. Starting in October--date to be determined--you may purchase goods and services via the General Services Administration's GSA Advantage!, an online shopping service on the Internet. Its virtual doors will open on about 13,000 items; over the next 24 months everything from batteries and cleaning supplies to fire fighting and rescue equipment on GSA schedules will be phased in--four million products in all.
Virtually Real Beats Really Real
Because of the time, staff, and paperwork involved , GSA says that it costs between $40 and $200 to process a single traditional government purchase order. "Electronic ordering is easier, faster and cheaper," says Bill Gormley, Assistant Commissioner for Acquisition at GSA's Federal Supply Service. You'll find GSA Advantage! on GSA's World Wide Web site at http://www.gsa.gov.
What You'll Need
You're set to go if your office is on Internet, has Netscape (an Internet "browser" that provides for visuals on screen), and has an authorized holder of an IMPAC credit card. You don't have to worry about violating federal acquisition rules. They're built into the new system. You also don't have to worry about credit card security. "If the customer has Netscape, it locks into the Netscape secure commerce server, which encrypts their card number," says GSA's Ed O'Hare. "Agencies could also pay with their GSA account, known as the activity address code."
No One Will Be Left Out
GSA has not forgotten its customers who are not on Internet. They plan to make the shopping service available by modem. If you work in a remote location without so much as a PC, you will have to wait a while longer. Eventually you'll be able to shop by phone. "The system is Internet accessible, but not Internet dependent,"O'Hare says.
For more information, leave a message on GSA's voice mail hot line, (703) 305-7359, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government information technology experts will speak at the Electronic Government Conference in Washington, DC on Oct. 25-26. Topics include privacy, public access to government information, Electronic Data Interchange, electronic commerce, and others. NPR's John Huang will highlight such efforts as the U.S. Business Advisor and kiosk technology. For more information, call the International Quality and Productivity Center, at 800-882-8684.
The Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University have announced that ten federal initiatives are among 30 finalists for their Innovations in Government Award. On October 26, 15 of the finalists will receive $100,000 Ford Foundation grants. The remaining 15 will receive $20,000. This award recognizes government programs and policies that represent new and highly effective approaches to meeting public needs. This is the first year that federal initiatives were eligible.
The federal finalists are: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for its Early Warning Program (protects private pension funds from corporate transactions that might jeopardize pensions), the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in Dallas for its Operation Jobs (arranges for replacement workers for jobs previously held by undocumented workers), and Defense's Multimedia Medical Language Translator (a lap-top computer application that allows health-care providers to communicate with patients who do not speak English).
Also, Bureau of Reclamation (transformation from a dam building agency into a leading water resource management bureau); Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Maine 200 voluntary compliance program); Department of Labor's Reengineering Establishment Survey Data Collection Program; Veterans Affairs' Northport, NY VA Medical Center (reengineering ambulatory care); Defense Civilian Assistance and Re-employment Program; Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia (new approach to procuring troop supplies); and Ozone Depleting Chemical Elimination Program at Newark Air Force Base in Ohio.
Mark Your Calendar
Look for a delayed REGO Network satellite broadcast on the day after the ceremony. Award application deadline for 1996 is Jan. 10, 1996. For award information call (617) 495-0558.
We're sorting through agency mail and grinning about what we see. We're just two years into reinvention and customers are excited about the changes they see. We will from time to time share fan mail from Americans who appreciate what federal employees are doing.
A private nonprofit international organization wrote on May 4, 1995: The U.S. Agency for International Development "has taken highly commendable steps recently to reduce administrative burdens on [those] who enter into grants and/or cooperative agreements ...We have noted a wholesale change in USAID employee attitudes to one of collaboration."
A petroleum company wrote on April 20, 1995: "The Coast Guard should be congratulated for taking the lead in adopting the technique of negotiated rulemaking...the Coast Guard...has been approachable and willing to listen to countering views; and would prefer achieving a consensus among affected interests before a final rule is published."
For more information, contact Pat Wood or Steve Earle, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 632-0150; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: email@example.com.