More and more customers with a computer, internet access and an authorized ordering account are taking advantage of a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support web-based ordering system that is reducing expenses for medical supplies.
The Medical supply chain’s Electronic Catalogue is now servicing about 5,690 federal customers from the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, offering more than 1 million medical items from approximately 220 vendors at an average of 20 percent lower than commercial list prices.
Twenty percent is the current average according to Charles Reimer, a Medical ECAT integrated supply team chief. And as more federal customers sign up to use the program, Medical’s footprint in the commercial market increases, which leads to better pricing.
“ECAT is a one-stop shop … it automates the entire customer procurement cycle - from searching for products, creating reorder lists, submitting an order, approving an order, and receiving and paying for an order,” Reimer said. “Having more customers equates to more demand and sales that contracting officers can use as leverage to negotiate better pricing for all of our government customers.”
Daniel Keefe, Medical’s Supplier Operations Director, said the ECAT’s easy and efficient manner to order supplies, along with its rare range and breadth of items, helps lead to big savings for Medical’s government partners.
“This allows DLA Troop Support to offer many strategic options, produced in a collaborative manner, which allows for a conducive whole of government approach utilizing the existing ECAT platform,” Keefe said.
Using its largest non-DOD customer as an example, the VA started transitioning to ECAT in January 2018. Since then, the VA purchased more than $125 million on medical items through the program that allowed them to avoid spending $22.5 million on the commercial market, according to Reimer.
In fiscal 2018, ECAT sales for federal customers exceeded $863 million. With an uptick in business and new customers, Reimer said fiscal 2019 sales are on track to exceed $1.2 billion.
Cost avoidance is not the only benefit of ECAT, as it also helps agencies meet small business requirements.
David Zarenkiewicz, a Medical ECAT integrated supply team chief, noted more than half of all the vendors are small businesses.
However, even with the program’s success, the goal moving forward is to develop the program’s coverage and utility, while meeting the growing customer needs.
“Medical is currently expanding its line of orthopedic, cardiovascular and hospital equipment items, and is also working with its VA partner to encourage Veteran Owned Small Businesses to increase their presence in the ECAT,” Zarenkiewicz said.
As more customers transition over to ECAT, Zarenkiewicz believes it will have a positive impact on everyone’s bottom line.
“The idea of promoting interagency collaboration leverages the government’s buying power as a whole, which ultimately will lead to increased efficiency at a lower cost to our customers,” he said.
Federally funded customers who are interested in becoming an authorized ECAT customer can register at the DMMOnline Home Page. Contact the ECAT Help Desk by email or call 1-800-290-8201 for assistance.