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Once the use of an E-Gov Travel System (ETS) was mandated, our agency started preparing for the selection process. In order to prepare our selection criteria, we needed to solicit feedback from representatives across the entire agency. After we received everyone’s feedback, we reviewed all of the information to determine the agency requirements as a whole.
We separated the criteria into the following categories:
- Organization Setup
- Document Creation (Authorizations, Amendments, Vouchers, and Local Vouchers)
- System Support and Technical Issues
- Vendor Deliverables
Each of the categories was further broken down into the specific task that the vendor was to demonstrate during their two and a half day evaluation. The packet of selection criteria was identical for each vendor and was distributed to each of them prior to their evaluation to allow them time to prepare for the demonstration.
Prior to the start of the first evaluation, the entire rating team met to review the selection criteria and rating guidelines. This was critical to ensure that everyone was on the same page.
Once the evaluation for the vendor started, each vendor had two and a half days to complete our selection criteria packet. Each vendor presentation started with the organization setup of their system. The main goal for this section was to allow us to see behind the scenes of the specific ETS. We wanted to see a demonstration of items such as:
- How is a new traveler added to the system?
- How do you control system access?
- How does a document preparer have access to their travelers?
- How is the electronic routing setup?
- How is accounting maintained in the system?
- Are budget object codes tied to each expense?
- How are expenses setup?
- Can you customize Trip Purposes?
- Is the POV rate history accessible?
Once the organization setup was complete, we moved on to the next section, document creation. The document creation section was the largest part of our selection criteria packet. During this part of the demonstration, the vendor went through each step of creating a document from selecting the traveler, entering basic travel information, making reservations, entering expenses and then on to the approval process. In this section we also covered specific scenarios that were of interest to our agency such as:
- Can multiple accounting codes be selected and allocated appropriately within the document?
- Can the lodging be updated to the actual cost on a certain day?
- Can multiple per diem locations be added to the same document?
- Can a document be copied to another document?
- Can expenses be copied to another day?
- Can expenses be updated, added, and deleted on the voucher?
- How is a document cancelled?
- Can blanket authorizations be done?
Following the document creation section, we then proceeded to system support and technical issues to discuss items such as passwords and database access. Afterwards, we answered the questions in the miscellaneous section. The last actual demonstration section was reports. In the reports section, we wanted to see the reports that were available at each user level (traveler, approving official, administrator, etc).
The final section of the selection criteria packet was vendor deliverables. This section displayed the information that we didn’t need to have demonstrated during the evaluation but that we wanted to review as part of the selection process. Some of the items in this category were:
- Training Material
- Vendor Implementation Project Plan
- Output file for the documents created during the evaluation
- List of system audits
Throughout the vendor evaluation, the rating members rated each item in the selection criteria packet. After the evaluation was complete, all of the scores were collected. We then compiled the scores from each member to come up with a single score for each vendor.
In order to make the final selection, we compared all items where the vendors rated differently. This allowed us to focus only on the differences and compare them side by side. All of the rating members gathered together once again to review this document. We went through each item one by one and discussed what each vendor could or could not do. After the details of this document were agreed upon a recommendation for a vendor was submitted to the executive sponsor. The sponsor then worked with contracting and GSA to place a task order.
Overall, the development of the selection criteria packet was very time consuming. However, this packet is what lead us to select the vendor that we have today. We have certainly had our issues but I definitely think we made the right decision and therefore worth all of the effort.
Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency. Use of this equipment is consistent with the agency’s policy governing limited personal use.
by Kim Fordyce