The CommerceNet consortium has joined with the U.S. government to demonstrate a streamlined approach to catalogue purchasing.

In what is known as the Catalogue Interoperability Pilot, which officially began last week, purchasers get secure on-line access to vendor and product information. The framework makes separate interfaces between each seller and agency unnecessary.

Participating agencies include the General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Defense Information Services Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, and Department of the Navy.

It is the latest of a growing number of federal initiatives to spur electronic commerce. Tony Trenkle, co-chair of the Federal Electronic Commerce Program Office, said it expects to lower costs and cut procurement cycle times while improving transaction controls and quality.

"Interoperability is the key to ensuring global economic competitiveness," said Randall Whiting, chief executive officer of California-based CommerceNet, which has 500 member organizations including banks and technology developers. He said the pilot will help establish "a truly extensible model for the highly distributed world of Internet-based commerce."

Numerous vendors are contributing to the interoperability effort, including Digital Commerce Corp., data base companies Oracle Corp. and Sybase Inc., and data security suppliers NDS Americas and V-One Corp.

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