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CommerceNet Launches Catalog Interoperability Study

CommerceNet, the e-commerce industry association, said it is working with the government and private industry to create a pilot that will demonstrate the economic benefits and technical feasibility of interoperable catalogs.

CommerceNet has proposed a study of catalog interoperability for an electronic procurement system to be used by multiple government agencies. If successful, the model could be replicated throughout governmental agencies and private industries.

There are significant repetitive costs when multiple agencies extract the same information from vendors, CommerceNet said. Not only is this process costly and time consuming, but also it often eliminates participation by smaller vendors who do not have the necessary resources to deal with multiple inquiries.

"The answer is to create interoperable catalogs where several agencies can access needed information," said Randall C. Whiting, CommerceNet's president and CEO. "Unlike past attempts to create a single catalog design for all federal catalogs, which limit the flexibility that each agency needs, we want to build an interoperable framework that independent, proprietary catalogs can operate and communicate within."

The CommerceNet study is based on a recommendation that was submitted to the Federal Electronic Commerce Program Office and the Interagency Acquisition Internet Council in December. The Study Phase is expected to be completed by the end of February, with the pilot proposal scheduled to be delivered by the end of March. The pilot is envisioned to run about four months.

The study and pilot will address general electronic commerce issues relative to catalog interoperability as well as putting forth a set of security issues and guidelines.