us_soldier_025
TechTank

E-procurement Saves Lives and Time in US Army

Darrell M. West and Hillary Schaub

Today it seems everyone is using their mobile devices to order and track purchases on Amazon or to receive texts from Seamless when their dinner is on the way. One would assume our defense forces have similar or more advanced procurement technology; however, until recently the United States Army was operating on a handwritten, paper-intensive procurement system in the field.

The Army now uses a mobile procurement program called the 3in1 tool which allows officers to purchase, track, and record transactions in the field. According to the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) the 3in1 tool is a “small, lightweight mobile device which provides a technology-based solution to recording and transferring data when conducting on-the-spot, over-the-counter, field purchases of supplies and non-personal services.”[1] The device automatically transfers the data from the 3in1 device to the Joint Contingency Contracting System (JCCS). Prior to the 3in1 device, cash and carry type purchases were conducted using a Standard Form 44 (SF44) since the 1960s.[2]

Evolving from the antiquated, handwritten process, the 3in1 device has revolutionized the Army procurement system. This device drastically improves efficiency in the army procurement system, reduces risks, and supports US soldiers in the field. The 3in1 tool is critical for the first boots on the ground and is heavily used in most initial contingency and humanitarian operations.[3]

SF44

Problems with the old system:

  • Illegibility of SF44 form and receipts
  • Typos and miscalculations of order, total, or exchange rate
  • Lost documents
  • Wasted time from duplicated data entry or excessive copying
  • Lack of oversight and visibility of purchases
  • Lack of cash control from delayed clearing
  • Unnecessary risk due to travel

Advantages of the 3in1 Tool:

  • Automation of field ordering, receiving, and payment functions
  • Improved accountability and transparency
  • Immediate visibility of transaction and payments
  • Improved data and purchase control
  • No excessive copying, storage, or shipping
  • Enables analysis of expenditures and purchase activities
  • Reduces travel and market place redundancy

Although tracking a pizza delivery with your smartphone may seem trivial, this innovation has a powerful impact in its greater application. The 3in1 tool has revolutionized how the Army functions and other sectors like healthcare should adopt these technologies as well.


[1] Christianson, Lt. Col. Ann, “3in1 Tool Program: Ordering, Receiving, Payment” Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy and Business Transformation Agency (2008): 13.

http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/cio/3in1_briefing_4-10.pdf

[2] Clark, Rachel, “409th Contracting Support Brigade Trains on 3in1 Tool, Improving Expeditionary Readiness,” The United States Army (2013).

http://www.army.mil/article/115501/409th_Contracting_Support_Brigade_trains_on_3in1_Tool__improving_expeditionary_readiness/

[3] Christianson, Lt. Col. Ann, “3in1 Tool Program: Ordering, Receiving, Payment” Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy and Business Transformation Agency (2008): 14.

http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/cio/3in1_briefing_4-10.pdf

Authors