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OASIS: Net procurement needs to align

The Web services standards group launches an effort to create uniform practices for the way companies procure supplies over the Internet.

A Web services standards group has launched an effort to push for uniform practices in the way supplies are bought and sold online.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) formed a committee devoted to what it called "e-procurement" systems, saying existing technology needed standardization.

"Our first priority will be to develop a comprehensive framework for electronic procurement standards, relating existing specifications to those in development," Terri Tracey, chair of the OASIS Electronic Procurement Standardization (EPS) Technical Committee, said in a statement. "It is vital that we reach consensus on how these standards fit together. Once we establish our framework and priorities, we will create technical committees within OASIS to advance the necessary standards and implementation processes."

Members of the new committee include the (Institute for Supply Management), the Information Society Standardization System of the European Standards Committee (CEN/ISSS), National Institute for Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), RosettaNet and SeeBeyond Technologies.

OASIS, which launched in 1993 under the name SGML Open, has recently taken on new prominence with the emergence of Web services and a concurrent controversy over whether Web standards should be royalty-free or should include the use of licensed technologies.

OASIS has benefited as large technology companies, including Microsoft and IBM, have used the organization as an alternative to the leading Web standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which last year reaffirmed its virtual ban on royalty-encumbered technologies in its standards.

The e-procurement specification doesn't appear likely to incite any new turf battles between OASIS and the W3C, however.

"W3C traditionally focuses on core components of the Web, so they can be used by any interest--whether for procurement or other practices," W3C representative Janet Daly wrote in an e-mail interview. "In both its technical vagueness and business-process specificity, the OASIS effort doesn't look like W3C work."

The new OASIS committee for e-procurement will conduct its first meeting, by teleconference, May 19 to coincide with the ISM's annual conference in Nashville, Tenn.