RealTime IT News

Oasis Pushes Global E-procurement Standardization

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) consortium has created a forum for government agencies, organizations, and private companies to work together on global e-procurement standards.

The new Electronic Procurement Standardization (EPS) Technical Committee will analyze requirements, identify gaps, and make recommendations for improving the interoperability of XML, internet based e-procurement systems.

Other EPS participants include the Institute for Supply Management, Information Society Standardization System of the European Standards Committee (CEN/ISSS), US National Institute for Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), US National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), RosettaNet, and Seebeyond.

Terri Tracey of the Institute for Supply Management will chair the new committee. "We are already hearing from other organizations that are interested in joining," she said.

Patrick Gannon, Oasis president and CEO, said input from government and industry is essential to ensure that new e-procurement specifications are neutral and effective.

John Ketchell, CEN/ISSS director, said his organization joined the EPS to foster consensus between emerging global standards and regional European requirements. He also said CEN/ISSS plans to start an e-procurement project to complement European legislative initiatives designed to harmonize public e-procurement across EU member states.

Rob Rosenthal, senior analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass., saw the announcement as a positive development, but said no one should expect a universal standard for e-procurement any time soon.

"Procurement has always been a big part of e-commerce," said Rosenthal, "but it goes back at least twenty five years with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and there are as many EDI standards as there are companies with connections."

Rosenthal also noted that there is an entrenched industry built around getting different e-procurement systems to talk to each other. "Companies like GXS and Sterling do this for a living," said Rosenthal. "Global standards for e-procurement are certainly a good idea, but I think we will first see this in specific sectors, state and federal agencies, for example."

Tracey admitted the embedded EDI community has slowed the adoption of XML- and Internet-based trading communities. "There are still some 800 LB gorillas out there," said Tracey. "If you are a supplier to Wal-Mart, you will probably do whatever Wal-Mart says."