Calling 18F home for the past two months has given me the opportunity to grow in countless ways. I’ve pushed myself in ways I wasn’t expecting.
Moving from manual tracking to a digital system
Federal employees who want to make small, work-related purchases do so using a Purchase Card (or P-Card, for short). The P-Cards system was put in place to ensure proper use of taxpayers’ money, and they can only be used by specially trained employees. Until recently, all P-Card users had to manually track their purchases, which took time and effort needed for more mission-critical tasks.
To simplify the process and reduce the time employees spend tracking purchases, GSA asked 18F to develop C2 (formerly called Communicart), an approval tool that gives P-Card holders a high-level view of all purchase-related information.
Build quickly based on user insights
Before building anything, the C2 team conducted user interviews, asking employees from different agencies about their frustrations with the current system.
Drawing on this research, 18F built the first version of C2 in just a few weeks and collected more feedback from the people who would be using it. The tool includes many features to make purchase tracking easier, including:
- A dashboard view that allows users to see all requested purchases
- Automated emails that keep requesters and approvers informed
- A history of past purchases, which is useful to reference when making similar future purchases
The response to C2 has been extremely positive. One user said, “C2 has been an incredibly useful tool…in that it combines the best of an email system and a spreadsheet system without the downsides of either.”
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Our hope is that our new Communicart tool will streamline the purchase card approval process so government employees can spend more time performing their essential work and less time on the paperwork required to buy a new chair.