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In a continued effort to cut government spending, the Treasury Department will require all of its bureaus to switch to an electronic invoice processing platform, the department said in a July 13 news release.

By the end of fiscal year 2012, all Treasury bureaus, including the Internal Revenue Service, will use the Internet Payment Platform (IPP). In fiscal year 2013, commercial vendors also will be required to submit invoices using the platform.

By switching to IPP, Treasury could cut invoice processing costs in half, saving about $7 million annually, the release said. If adoption went government-wide, it could save $450 million annually by reducing the cost of entering invoices and responding to invoice inquiries. The government-wide savings would equal a quarter of the $2.1 billion of efficiency savings that President Obama's 2012 budget requested from agencies.

The platform would improve government efficiency and cut costs for taxpayers, according to the release. It also would allow vendors to collect quicker payments, receive greater assurances that invoices are received and processed, and have immediate online access to invoice status for all agencies.

“Electronic invoicing will mean lower costs for taxpayers and faster payments for private sector companies doing business with the federal government,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin said in the release. “Treasury is continuing to move forward to identify innovative ways to use technology to cut waste and improve efficiency.”

Standards Being Developed

Treasury will publish invoice processing data standards soon for how to submit data electronically to IPP, the release said. The agency is working with the Department of Defense to find a single-entry point for all vendors to go paperless and follow one set of government standards for invoice submission, rather than individual and unique requirements for each agency.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, praised the move as a positive effort in wasteful spending reduction and government efficiency and transparency.

“The Internet Payment Platform is a common-sense solution that utilizes technology to process, track and save money in the federal budget, benefiting the American taxpayer's wallet and the federal government's bottom line,” Carper said in the release. “While there is no silver bullet to solve all of our nation's fiscal woes, this action is just one of many silver darts that we can use to better manage scarce taxpayer dollars.”