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Update on Electronic Data Interchange (Part 2)

In our last post, we noted the goals of electronic data interchange (EDI). GSA seeks to quickly convey, complete purchase order information so that our vendor partners can promptly fulfill customer requirements.

During FY 2016, GSA is debuting three significant projects under the umbrella of strategic sourcing.  We started in October with office supplies, known as OS3, and will continue this year with Maintenance, Repair and Operating (MRO) supplies, and Janitorial and Sanitation (JanSan) products. In all three cases, one of the fundamental pieces of the GSA requirements is that participating vendors demonstrate the capability to engage with GSA in a full EDI exchange for conveying orders, communicating or acknowledging cancellations and ultimately confirming shipment. In addition to the cost-saving and streamlining benefits associate with strategic sourcing, the use of EDI will ensure improved and consistent service for our customers.

The benefits of EDI are so significant, for all parties, that it will also become the basis for GSA Global Supply’s interaction with most of our vendor partners.  In recent weeks, we have introduced an alternate mechanism called the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) that simplifies EDI connections and allows for a cost-free connection for our vendor partners. In the months ahead, we will work with vendors still relying on fax communications to establish electronic connections. Indeed, our effort is part of a larger initiative that all federal agencies are participating in to improve the flow of information with vendors. This effort will standardize communications, lower operating costs and deliver improved service for a wide spectrum of end users.

Relevant language is now being developed and inserted into planned contract solicitations so that all new contracts are established with EDI as a core element. Eventually, existing contracts will be modified as well to bring existing vendors into the mainstream of EDI connection.

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