Defense Department Goes E-Commercial

When it comes to the U.S. government’s approach to new businesses, the Internet is apparently no different from any other success story.

Seemingly everyone in government wants to have a hand in its development. With Capitol Hill’s tide of Internet-related bills and resolutions swelling and the Federal Trade Commission diving in with its own new Internet and e-commerce office, the Department of Defense now wants to join the fun.

On Thursday, June 10th, the Department of Defense Electronic Commerce Day will showcase new opportunities for the military to take advantage of the Internet and for Internet businesses to take advantage of the large-scale purchases the military makes.

The day is a project of the Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office, an initiative the Defense Department launched last summer to speed up the military’s integration of electronic commerce into its operations.

The JECPO has also developed a “DoD EC Navigator” on its Web site to assist buyers, sellers and others interested in doing business with the Defense Department. Already on board are all four branches of the U.S. military — the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — plus the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Information System Agency, all with e-commerce initiatives on their own Web sites.

Internet Fest, Washington-Style

Sounding suspiciously like a private business hyping a trade show, the Defense Department calls its second annual Internet day “a must attend event for EC professionals seeking to learn how the Department is incorporating the latest information technologies to fundamentally improve DoD business practices.”

Along with demonstrations of new computer programs and Internet resources the military plans to incorporate into its daily routine, Electronic Commerce Day will include a conference titled “Electronic Business in Action — Supporting the Warfighter, Industry Trading Partners, and the Business Functions.” Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre will lead the panel, with Harvard University professor of Public Management Steve Kelman and “prominent industry executives” also participating, according to the Defense Department.

Attendees will also participate in discussion groups on how electronic business is used in acquisition and contracting, finance, transportation, logistics, personnel support, advanced technology, and information assurance.

Better Clothes for the Troops

For U.S. troops, the Internet revolution brings the end of baggy dungarees and army boots that pinch the toes. Highlighting Electronic Commerce day will be a demonstration of a program to scan all three dimensions of a new military recruit to determine the recruit’s uniform size by computer.

That information will be shared via the Internet with troop outfitting depots around the country. At Defense Department depots, computer-generated bar codes will help clerks keep up retail inventory levels. Through the Web, recruiters and supply centers will get “an integrated view of retail and wholesale assets in the supply chain,” the Defense Department says.

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