E-Procurement Biz Gets First Customer

WASHINGTON (07/12/2000) - The Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments has signed on as the first customer of a new company formed by Bank of America Corp. and NIC Commerce that offers online procurement services to state and local governments.

Banc of America Purchase Street LLC will provide the H-GAC with online purchasing, payment and reconciliation services through December 2005, said Dave Fishman, vice president of marketing at NIC Commerce, speaking Tuesday at the E-Gov trade show in Washington, D.C.

The H-GAC cooperative purchasing program helps more than 1,100 local governments buy more than US$150 million annually in products ranging from fire trucks to radios. The H-GAC researches and prepares specifications, solicits and evaluates bids and proposals, and recommends contract awards to the board of directors, which is composed of 33 local elected officials.

"This is the first win between NIC Commerce and Bank of America in the state and local space, and it really validates our partnership model," Fishman said.

"We provide the upfront money to build the site out and then they purchase through it."

Under the H-GAC agreement, Bank of America will provide payment and other financial services while NIC Commerce will provide the electronic procurement software, manage catalog content and secure server-hosting services.

Normally, a government can expect implementation within three months of signing a contract, but the H-GAC will take a bit longer because of the large number of data sources involved and the inconsistencies that go along with that, Fishman said. "We should implement at least the beta by the end of the year."

NIC Commerce also announced Tuesday that it won a contract to provide the e-procurement solution for PlanetGov.com to enable Web-based transactions. The software will be customized to maintain the same look and feel as the other parts of the PlanetGov.com site, and it will interface with its order entry system and data repository.

"PlanetGov.com could have gone with other companies, but they were looking for expertise in the public sector, and we have 65 to 70 full-time employees at NIC Commerce devoted to the public sector," Fishman said.

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