Belgian Federal e-Catalogue platform (ECATBEL)

Published on: 13/12/2007
Document
The Belgian Federal Public Service P&O has set up an e-Catalogue platform (post-awarding), implementing one of the modules of the large e-Procurement project. The Belgian e-Catalogue Platform is an autonomous, open, secure, inter operable, and re-configurable platform where public officers and companies can perform multiple tasks related to their electronic purchase process. It is composed of 2 components : the electronic catalogue and electronic ordering. The platform offers possibilities to manage contractual activities relating to electronic catalogues, such as the electronic order.

Policy Context

The Belgian e-Catalogue project is a sub-project of the e-Procurement project. They key stone of the e-Procurement project is its modularity. The FPS P&O will gradually implement the e-Procurement modules one by one. This strategy gives the opportunity to profit from the lessons learned in other EU countries allowing us to better align the functionalities with business requirements. This approach allows better time and budgetary management and better results in easier manageable contracts. The third module of the e-Procurement project is the e-Catalogue module. It is composed of two main components : the electronic catalogue and the electronic ordering. The electronic catalogue provides the necessary functionalities for the management of e-Catalogues (creation, update, browsing, approvals, etc.) after the conclusion of a particular framework contract. The electronic ordering includes the functionalities for the management of orders mainly consisting in their placement, approval and acceptance or rejection as well as other functionalities such as order status updates and order cancellation. In the coming years the platform will be linked with the Belgian Federal accounting system. The electronic catalogue’s format is based on the UBL 2.0 standard. The platform can only be accessed in a highly secured manner, via the Belgian Electronic Identity Card (eID) or the public officers token (temporary). This is implemented through the Belgian Federal Authentication System (FAS) managed by the Belgian Federal Public Service for IT (FEDICT), and the social security portal managed by the Belgian Federal Public Service Social Security. As some business documents, like the catalogue and the purchase order, needs to be electronically signed e-Catalogue is based on the Belgian law concerning the electronic signatures (9 July, 2001).

Description of target users and groups

The main target groups are Belgian federal public officers and all companies who have concluded a framework contract with a contracting authority. The target group can also be extended to other levels of public governments such as regions and local authorities

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The project is run and managed by the Federal Public Service Personnel and Organization. The SW developments that are the basis of the services provided are subcontracted to European Dynamics. Though, the FPS P&O has the ownership of everything produced by the contractor. To manage and reach strategic goals the e-Procurement team has formed a steering group of several key users of the e-Procurement products. Apart from this steering group, the user group gives input and feedback on functional issues of the e-Procurement applications. In short time, other central and regional Belgian public administrations can actively participate in functional and strategic discussions allowing them to make e-Catalogue more in-line with their business requirements.

Technology solution

e-Catalogue is a web based application, completely based on open source components . It uses J2EE technology with apache, tomcat, mysql, … It is based on open standards such as HTML, TSA, XML, SSL, OCSP, PKCS12, etc. The application implements the use of the Belgian e-ID card, which gives public officers and companies the possibility to easily electronically sign their documents. Foreign companies can use a valid and qualified certificate which can be exported. Technology choice: Standards-based technology, Mainly (or only) open standards, Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

Currently the e-Catalogue application is in pilot phase, which means that about 10 purchasing services and three companies are using the platform. From the second quarter of 2008, the platform will go live and more catalogues and purchasing services will be gradually integrated. By the end of 2009 all framework contracts should be integrated and between 60-100% of the purchasing services should use the platform to place orders. The benefits of the system mainly focus on administrative simplification and faster and more transparent ordering processes.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

At the beginning of the project the Belgian Federal Government cooperated with the French Government to define the functional specifications.

Lessons learnt

As the platform is just going into pilot phase, we currently do not posses sufficient knowledge concerning this topic. Scope: International, National, Regional (sub-national)