USAID considers PowerTrack pilot program
The U.S. Agency for International Development is considering a six-month test of U.S. Bank’s electronic freight payment and transaction program.
It currently takes USAID 150 to 180 days to settle its transportation bills. The ocean freight differential, the difference paid by the Maritime Administration to the food agency for the cost of U.S.-flag vessel transport vs. the use of foreign-flag shipping, could take years to settle.
U.S. Bank’s system, PowerTrack, is expected to reduce the entire freight transportation payment cycle for food aid to less than 40 days. The PowerTrack payments to the carriers are made within three business days after approval by the paying agency.
PowerTrack already has a proven track record in the federal government. In 1998, the Defense Department recognized the system as a way to replace its cumbersome paper government bills of lading with a commercial-based bill of lading structure and mandated its use by carriers handling defense cargoes.
In 2002, $1.24 billion in Military Traffic Management Command transportation charges covering 3.45 million transactions were paid through PowerTrack. Today, there are more than 825 participating MTMC carriers on the system, including railroads, truckers, vessel and barge operators and pipelines.
The Bush administration wants federal agencies to improve their information management by acquiring electronic off-the-shelf systems. MarAd strongly encourages USAID and its counterparts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider use of PowerTrack.
USAID’s Office of Procurement, Transportation and Commodities Division in Washington oversees ocean transportation contracts under the P.L. 480 Title II food aid program. USAID said in a notice to ocean carriers that it welcomed their input on PowerTrack.
“Whether or not you are an experienced PowerTrack user or have no prior knowledge of PowerTrack, USAID is seeking your comments, concerns and questions,” the agency’s Oct. 9 notice said. “USAID will use your input as a basis to determine whether or not we go forward with this pilot program.”
Comments must be received at USAID by Oct. 24. They may be sent electronically to Denise Stone Sherl, USAID’s Transportation Branch chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 202-216-3051.