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New Effort Taps Best Commercial Practices for Defense Acquisition

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2008 – When a shopper goes online to make a purchase, a click of the mouse will identify which retailers offer the product and at what price, and how much they’ll charge to deliver it to the buyer’s doorstep.

U.S. Transportation Command’s new Corporate Services Vision is bringing that model to the military acquisition process, a senior Transcom official said here today.

The initiative taps into the best practices being perfected in the commercial sector and puts them at the fingertips of warfighters and those who support them, said Robert J. Osborn II, Transcom’s deputy director for distribution portfolio management, command, control, communications and computer systems.

Corporate Services Vision is in the process of being rolled out, and will streamline the processes used to do everything from arranging troop transportation to ordering spare parts and tracking their delivery, Osborn said. Instead of having to go into different systems to order equipment and track shipments, users will have access to a virtual one-stop shopping experience.

“Today, if you are trying to order transportation for something, track your shipment [or] find out if it has been delivered, there are multiple systems you have to log onto to get the information you need,” Osborn said. “Then it is up to you as the user to collate that information.”

Corporate Services Vision is changing that, integrating myriad redundant and often incompatible systems into a single operation across the enterprise, he said. This will simplify the acquisition process, saving money and making many of the steps all but transparent to the user.

Osborn compared the effort to what a consumer experiences when buying an item online. The buyer simply keys in an item name to determine which vendors offer the product and at what price. Then, the buyer selects a vendor and designates how quickly he wants delivery and how much it will cost. Finally, the buyer pays by credit card and receives a code to track the shipment to delivery.

The queries that drive these transactions – to vendors and transportation companies – are transparent to the user.

That’s what the Corporate Services Vision will bring warfighters, Osborn said. “We are changing the onus of you as a user [having] to go to different systems to find out your information,” he said. “Now you will log onto a Web site, a browser we are providing, and you will be able to conduct business based on what capabilities you need.”

Ultimately, this will benefit warfighters by allowing them to concentrate on their mission, not on how to get what they need to accomplish it, he said.

“If you are at the front of the spear out in the field trying to do your job, now that information is being given to you so you can concentrate on making the right decision based on what your job is, rather than spending your time trying to get information,” Osborn said.

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Robert J. Osborn II

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U.S. Transportation Command

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