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Quicker March At The Pentagon


Up Front: TAXES AT WORK

QUICKER MARCH AT THE PENTAGON

PENTAGON CONTRACTING, notorious for its agonizingly slow pace, may finally start double-timing. We're not talking about megabuck weapons systems, which take years and years to produce. At issue are Defense Dept. purchases costing $100,000 or less--98% of all its procurement transactions.

By dint of its vast needs, the Pentagon itself will be the biggest beneficiary of new governmentwide rules encouraging standardized on-line purchasing. Expected turnaround time from request for bids to award of a contract: as little as 24 hours, vs. the previous minimum of 45 days. Agencies post notices of pending procurements and copies of solicitations on electronic bulletin boards. Contractors in turn use electronic-data exchange to submit bids and receive awards.

Deputy Defense Under Secretary Colleen Preston, who spearheaded the shift, knows firsthand how bad the old system was: She waited four months to buy a $40 dictation machine. Stan Crock


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