Government and Industry Work Together to Support Data Standardization

In 1999, the Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) was founded as an international not for profit membership association with a mission to research, develop and promote better quality data for use in electronic commerce.

Soon after formation, ECCMA director Peter Benson discovered that the Department of Defense had been doing data standardization work to support military acquisition since the early 1960s. The government system, called the Federal Cataloging System (FCS), described items purchased by the federal government using Federal Identification Information Guides (FIIGs). These guides classified and described over 17 million items used by the US, NATO, and a series of friendly foreign governments. The Defense Logistics Agency Logistics Information Service in Battle Creek, MI manages the database and cataloging process. Benson convinced the government to collaborate with private industry to develop an international standard based on the work already started by the federal government.

ECCMA went on to develop the ECCMA Open Technical Dictionary (eOTD) to allow the creation and exchange of unambiguous, language independent master data. Data that identifies and describes individuals, organizations, locations, goods, services, processes, rules and regulations. The eOTD is based on the Federal Cataloging System and the NATO Codification System, the systems used to manage the world’s largest shared inventory developed by the Department of Defense and members of NATO and used today in over 50 countries.

Today ECCMA is the project leader for ISO 22745 (Open technical dictionaries and their application to master data) and ISO 8000 (Data quality). ECCMA is also the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited administrator of the US technical advisory group, the committee responsible for the development and maintenance of international standards for industrial data.

This decade old partnership proves that government and industry can […]

DOD Getting the Message on Reverse Auctions

As with all of government, the Department of Defense is facing slimmer budgets and looking at ways to save money. Basically as Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary, Department of Defense, put it: “To do more, without more.”

In December 2010, John Young, a senior fellow at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and a former U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics wrote an article for Defense News encouraging the Department of Defense to use reverse auctions to save money. Young stated in his article,”There is constant debate about acquisition practices, with simple and obvious steps frequently overlooked. Reverse auctioning can save money, increase competition, cut contract officer workload, reduce procurement complexity, provide transparency, and help prevent fraud and graft. Reverse auction tools should be added to the DoD and defense industry acquisition tool kit and used whenever possible to get maximum value for each taxpayer dollar.”

In October 2011, David C. Wyld, Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana, published a report for the IBM Center for the Business of Government titled “Reverse Auctioning: Saving Money and Increasing Transparency.” In this report, Dr. Wyld recommends that the government  adopt an auction first policy. Wyld estimates that the federal government could save  $8.9 billion by increasing use of reverse auctions. He estimates that the Department of defense alone could save over $6 billion. In addition to increased savings, his report indicates that there is increased transparency of the acquisition transactions. A case study of the Department of State found that increased use of reverse auctions also increased the competition among suppliers, and dramatically reduced the acquisition contract time for department staff.

Over the last decade the DOD has made a few attempts at using reverse auctioning, but has […]

Why Strategic Sourcing Savings Plans Don’t Always Work Out

There has been an ongoing discussion in Linked-In about why some procurement saving initiatives or strategic sourcing plans fail to realize the savings they are projected to have.  The comments to the questions have revealed a few likely reasons so many projects fail.  I work primarily with government agency buying groups, but the following comments pertain to both public and private buyers.

Many buying groups operate in isolation and are not always aware of the enterprise-wide opportunities and/or mandated vendors.
Because these groups operate independently, they don’t understand the value of buying from the corporate contract. This may result in buys made to the contracted vendor, but outside the corporate contract, making effective tracking difficult.
Sometimes the contracted vendor may not have the preferred items and local vendors may provide better or additional services to the customer. If many people are buying outside the strategic supplier, there may be a problem with the supplier and the program should be looked at or possibly an additional supplier should be added to the authorized list.

Several things have to happen to counteract these “Buy Around” behaviors.

Senior stakeholders have to make sure the buying units understand the importance of the enterprise projects. Making sure that the information filters down from the top to all the buying units can be a challenge. Often a single memo from the top is not enough to get the message out.  Some type of an extended Corporate  Marketing Campaign  may be required.
They have to adequately market to the enterprise that these contracts exist, that they are mandated for use, what the benefits of using these contracts are, and how much money will be saved by the business/agency.
Headquarters also has to make sure that the enterprise-wide contracts […]

The History of Partnet

I wanted the first blog post of the year to give a little history of Partnet. We are a small business housed on the campus of the University of Utah, in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The University of Utah is home to one of the first Computer Science Departments and ranks among the world’s top 20 academic programs.  The University of Utah was also one of the initial five sites for DARPANET—the predecessor of the Internet.

I’m not going to say we “Invented the Internet” or anything, but Partnet was there at the beginning. Before Netscape, Internet Explorer, or even Mosaic were around, Partnet developed its own web client to allow engineers to use the Internet to source parts located in remote databases. Partnet obtained a patent for searching distributed databases over the Internet. Today this patent is widely used by nearly all Internet companies that crawl the Web (this includes Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and many others).

In 1992, Dr. Don Brown was so impressed with the ideas of his students that he made a video of the capabilities and sent it to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies that have had a major effect on the world.

Impressed with the idea of a distributed architecture that could search for spare parts from multiple databases, DARPA eagerly funded the project. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) soon joined the project. DLA provides supplies to the military services and supports their acquisition of weapon system repair parts and other materiel. DLA saw […]

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