- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

RICHMOND — With the click of a computer mouse, Gov. Mark Warner made a purchase yesterday that put Virginia’s electronic-procurement program over the $1 billion mark.

The purchase represented nearly 155,000 orders since eVA was begun two years ago. More than 4 million products are posted on eVA by 13,300 private vendors. The products are available to more than 400 government agencies and institutions.

Products range from fuel, vehicles and maintenance services to office supplies. This year, construction and additional services, such as telecommunications, will be added.

“EVA has enabled the commonwealth to leverage its buying power across state and local government, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs,” Mr. Warner said.

“This milestone of $1 billion means we have changed our buying culture and shown Virginia to be a model for the nation in public sector [electronic commerce],” the Democratic governor said.

Mr. Warner said he was surprised by how far the system has come. “I didn’t think we’d get this far this quickly,” he told state Health Department employees gathered to watch the purchase.

The system stimulates competition by enabling state purchasing agents to easily shop online catalogs to compare prices and offers while reducing the administrative costs associated with doing business.

It also levels the playing field for smaller vendors. About 6,400 of the registered vendors are small, woman-owned, and minority-owned businesses. More than $190 million has been spent through eVA with small businesses.

Mr. Warner noted that private businesses spend about 1 percent of their procurement budget on administrative costs, while government spends 5.5 percent.

The eVA system is expected to reduce administrative costs to the state to about 2 percent, saving millions a year, Mr. Warner said.

He chose the Health Department to make the purchase because the agency has been an early and consistent user of the electronic-purchasing program.

Using the mouse to click on a “submit” icon on the computer screen, Mr. Warner sent the order for laboratory coats to Fisher Scientific International Inc., a New Hampshire company.

He urged Health Department employees to “keep looking for ways to save money.”

Virginia’s electronic-procurement program recently was recognized as the 2003 State Government Innovator by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture and Planning and Accenture. EVA also was ranked first in the nation by the Center for Digital Governments’ 2002 Digital State Survey.

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