Since its inception in June 1998, the Joint Electronic Commerce
Program Office (JECPO), has made “significant strides”
towards helping the Defense Department achieve its paperless contracting
goals, says the office’s director.
When Claudia “Scottie” Knott was put in charge of JECPO,
which operates under the Defense Logistics Agency, based at Fort
Belvoir, Va., the Pentagon contracting operation was only 27 percent
paperless. Today, that figure has reached 85 percent, according
to Knott. Though that estimate may be short of the 90 percent the
office was hoping for at the turn of the century, Knott believes
the Defense Department will have no problem in reaching that goal
“I think we’ll be able to reach that,” she told
National Defense in an interview. “... The goal was 90 percent
by 1 January 2000. While we didn’t make that goal totally,
we made significant strides towards it. Clearly, by 1 January, 2001,
we will be able to hit that mark.”
Paperless contracting is mandated by the Defense Reform Initiative
As the Pentagon works to become a less paper-dependent agency,
there are six performance measurements, or metrics, that document
its progress: contract requirements, contract solicitations, contract
awards/modifications, receipts and acceptance, invoices/payments,
and contract closeout. The department reached its 90-percent goal
on four of the metrics, but the other two dragged its aggregate
score down, said Knott.
“While we certainly didn’t meet the [total] goal, we
certainly came a long ways,” she added.
As the Pentagon inches closer to its paperless goals, Knott envisions
a future when the Defense Department will have a single electronic
exchange where all of the military services can access all of the
electronic commerce technologies, ranging from invoice payment to
supply chain management.
“The next step is to go beyond the traditional areas of buying
and paying, which is what we concentrated on with the paperless
contracting, and to move really to more of the supply chain transactions,”
said Knott. “In the long term, we are trying to establish
an enterprise-wide electronic environment by the year 2010.”
Because the services have unique needs, there is a challenge in
building a system that can accommodate all of them, she said.
“Our mantra is we’re a team of teams, building a system
of systems, and the technology today allows a presentation of information
to look like a single enterprise,” said Knott, “even
though the uniqueness of the applications—in other words,
the unique differences between the services—can also still
be recognized. To that degree, we are trying to build an electronic
business exchange, but it is not a single system in the same way
that the automotive industry and the airline industry and a lot
of the major supply chains are trying to create common business
services that support each of the component companies.
“...We have a lot of work yet to do, in terms of making [electronic
commerce applications] more integrated. In other words, we built
a lot of applications, and our next step really is putting them
into an enterprise portal, so that anybody in the Defense Department
enterprise can use all of them with a single sign-on.