FedCenter Simplifies Government Hi-Tech Purchases

Web site gives government professionals one-stop shopping for infotech

P> Julie Hall fears that the electronic revolution may put her sales team out of a job. As federal sales manager for DTK Computer Inc., City of Industry, Calif., she sees the information highway replacing the one-on-one contact that used to dominate sales and marketing.

But now a Vienna, Va.-based company has developed a way for vendors such as DTK to provide product and pricing data through a few simple keystrokes by government contracting officers.

The InterFed Group Inc.'s World Wide Web site provides government professionals a simple, one-stop location for vendor specifications on information technology products and services. The Web site, FedCenter (http://www.fedcenter.com), shortens and simplifies the process of searching for vendor product and service information on the Web.

InterFed Group, a privately held interactive Web site developer, touts FedCenter as a new paradigm for publishing market information on the Internet. The company promotes FedCenter as the first independent "cluster" Web site to provide comprehensive information technology product and service data. By grouping vendor information into a consistent format, the InterFed Group wants to advance the ways vendors market services and products to government buyers. Companies featured on the FedCenter site include 3Com, Ameridata, BMC Software, Compaq, IBM and Informix.

"No one is doing anything like this. We've taken a targeted market approach to government contracting and created a resource tool for end users. By clustering vendor information into FedCenter, we're making the Web a more user-friendly resource," said David Beers, president, CEO and founder of the InterFed Group.

Beers said FedCenter was created with an advisory council of more than 100 members, including 75 government employees and officials. The advisory council, which is expected to expand to 200, made recommendations on how to structure and standardize the information featured at the FedCenter site, according to Beers.

"We've created a sense of ownership among information technology users and buyers in the federal government. They have told us how they want to see vendor information presented to them. If someone told us that he or she hates italics in a certain spot, we've eliminated those italics. We have tailored FedCenter to the customer's needs and wants," said Beers, a 14-year infotech industry veteran.

FedCenter is unique because it organizes vendor information in a common, navigable data format that is consistent for all participating vendors. Nearly 100 vendors have a presence on the FedCenter site, which receives more than 100,000 hits a day.

"Uniform standards and formats are not only welcome, but critical to maximize effectiveness on the Internet. FedCenter provides a valuable, focused resource for federal employees searching for information on IT products and services," said Norman Wear, president of the General Services Administration Employee Association.

FedCenter also includes listing and registration services for more than 15,000 information technology training courses, events and seminars in the Washington area and across the nation. FedCenter includes an Informix-based search tool to allow users to locate courses and events based on subject, place, price, date and sponsor. Users can register for courses and seminars through the Web site. FedCenter also features a Windows '95 Resource Center. Pricing for a one-year vendor presence at FedCenter is $7,500.

The InterFed Group also rolled out a comprehensive GSA Federal Supply Schedule pricing feature at its FedCenter Web site. The FSS pricing menu will enable government buyers to easily compare pricing of information technology products and services among vendors, instead of obtaining product pricing from individual vendors.

"Our advisory council noted that the Chinese walls between FSS offerings represented a significant barrier to best-value procurement on a day-to-day basis. This new Contract Resource Center provides government users with a seamless connection to multivendor GSA schedules," Beers said.

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