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AMC airlift contracting goes to the Web

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTCNS) --- Air Mobility Command's Contract Airlift Division has launched "COINS Offers," a new Web-based function for commercial air carriers to view airlift requirements, manage offers for providing airlift services to the military, read posted messages, and access database reports in the Commercial Operations Integrated System.

Lou Koch, the functional manager for COINS, explained the improvement.

"AMC is responsible for supporting multi-service airlift of cargo and passengers worldwide," said Ms. Koch. "Most of the airlift is done through contracts with commercial U.S. flag carriers under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program. This is especially true when substantial movements are required such as those needed to support operations in Iraq."

Ms. Koch said COINS is used to prepare and execute contracts for obtaining commercial airlift services and for the associated contract, budget and data activities. She said when the Tanker Airlift Control Center here generates a need for airlift services, they input the airlift requirements into COINS as a purchase request.

"Once the purchase request is approved and funds are certified, it's our job to procure airlift to meet those requirements," added Ms. Koch. "We publicize requirements, receive offers, and award contracts to the air carriers."

But, she said, COINS was only set up to handle contract actions internally within AMC.

"Whenever we needed to arrange commercial airlift, our requirements and the corresponding offers were handled by e-mail, phone or fax to and from the vendors, and we had to manually enter the carriers' data into COINS," explained Ms. Koch.

"We award over a billion dollars of airlift contracts over the course of a year, so working by e-mail, phone and fax can get unwieldy. The division needed to extend the business process all the way out to the vendors. COINS Offers was the logical step forward in continuing to automate the airlift contract process, building on what we already had in place. COINS Offers gives us a secure Web page, accessible only by authorized airlift contract holders. Now we can post our airlift requirements on the web and carriers can submit their offers for services."

She also said the new process is more efficient, cuts down on the need to enter carrier offer data into COINS, and captures more information on offers. Ultimately, she said COINS Offers helps provide better customer service.

Marcia Heuer, the COINS Program Manager, said the move to the Web provides multiple benefits.

"COINS Offers gives the Contract Airlift Division the functionality they need, and the new module is also compliant with the USTRANSCOM [U.S. Transportation Command]enterprise architecture," said Ms. Heuer. "Going to the Web cuts down on the number of software applications installed on individual user PCs, so there are fewer of the inevitable conflicts between systems that cause applications to lock up or crash. The project also helps to reduce the total cost of ownership involved in having multiple copies of licensed software on user PCs."

Pulling it all together fell to Ron Howard, a project manager for NCI Information Systems.

"We put together the best solution to both meet the division's functional needs and to improve the quality and maintainability of the system," said Mr. Howard. "The architecture we selected is commonly used for small to medium-sized Web applications that interact with a single database."

Prior to the system going live, Mr. Howard said we built and sent documentation to AMC's commercial carrier partners, with detailed instructions on how to connect to COINS Offers, log in, and navigate within the system.

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