Making Online Catalogs More Visible

Coalition aims to make it easier for government agencies to purchase goods, services over the Internet

Bethlehem, PA  September 27, 2002  A coalition of nonprofit and educational organizations has formed to develop the functional specifications for standardized catalog builders and browsers in a bid to make it easier for government agencies to purchase goods and services online.

The Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) and Lehigh University are set to work with Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC) on the project.

ECCMA, based in Bethlehem, Pa., is a not-for-profit membership association that develops and maintains open standards for content. CTC is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization that provides management and technology-based solutions to the private and public sectors.

The current project is centered on the new ECCMA Open Technical Dictionary (eOTD), an open standard for product catalogs that leverages the work of the Federal Cataloging System, a 50-year-old cataloging initiative by the U.S. government to streamline its supply chain. This cataloging system, managed by the Defense Logistics Information Service (DLIS) in Battle Creek, Mich., is now used to maintain the world's largest inventory system.

According to Prof. Donald Hillman, leader of the Lehigh University contribution to the project, Web catalogs coded to the eOTD standard will be able to be "browsed" with far greater efficiency and accuracy than anything available today. "The eOTD is truly unique in the simplicity and elegance of its approach to solving the catalog standardization issue," Hillman said.

Yvette Thomas, executive director of ECCMA, praised the DLIS for supporting the development of open standards that will benefit all businesses by making it easier for them to be visible not only to government buyers but to all buyers.

Joe Homan, executive director of enterprise integration at Johnstown, Penn.-based CTC, agreed that the project would improve visibility to Department of Defense contractors by providing better quality and more timely information on the goods and services they have available.