U.S. Bancorp said Monday that it has signed a multiyear contract with the Department of Defense to electronically track freight payments.

Terms were not disclosed.

Philip G. Heasley, a U.S. Bancorp vice chairman, said that U.S. companies spend an estimated $400 billion a year on shipping, and that his bank wants a piece of that business.

"We have the opportunity to build a No. 1 share," Mr. Heasley said.

He said the agency would be the largest customer yet to use U.S. Bancorp's Internet-based tracking system, dubbed PowerTrack.

The freight payment business is one area U.S. Bancorp hopes will make up for an expected shortfall in its credit card business this year. In January the banking company said it lost a portion of the U.S. government's purchasing card's program, a setback that it said would reduce earnings by about 5 cents per share.

"We expect this program to fill in for a lot of what we lost with the government procurement" card, Mr. Heasley said.

The Defense Department contract took effect March 21, runs through yearend 2001, and has seven one-year renewal options.

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