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POTS- Purchasing Online Tracking System HHSinnovates Award 2010 Winner!

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The Purchasing On-line Tracking System (POTS) is an electronic purchase request submission, approval and tracking system based on NIH internal paper requisition of 1861 form. It was an in-house developed application originally created by NHGRI and later improved by NIDCR; NINDS adopted the NIDCR version in 2005 and further enhanced it to become the enterprise system in December of 2009. The success of POTS at NINDS quickly spread and has now been adopted by 26 Institutes and Centers (ICs) at NIH. A recent integration with the NIH Business System (NBS), a financial transaction and fund management application, greatly reduced the purchasing agentsí burden by enabling the electronic transfer of procurement data from POTS to NBS at a rate of over 20,000 orders per month, thus enhancing staff productivity by eliminating double data entry, reducing staffing and resourcing costs, and saving an estimated $1 million per year. POTS completely transformed the procurement process and requisition management into a paperless ordering tracking and management system which enables employees to efficiently request services and supplies and process and track throughout the life cycle of any purchase orders. In addition, POTS provides managerial tools to oversee staff workload and monitor performance, and to track line-item level purchases, allowing budget spending management, volume discount purchases for cost savings, and procurement transparency and accountability. These combined benefits enable system users to better support their research missions by reducing administrative difficulties and allow scientific staff to focus on improving human health through biomedical research and discovery to support NIH and HHS missions.


Currently, POTS is hosted by NINDS and NIH ICs are contributing resources for support, enhancements and maintenance. ICs also formed a user committee that met bi-monthly to discuss and share best practices in procurement and prioritize the enhancements. This committee also approves annual budget for shared resources.

Key features of POTS [ One-page POTS Summary Brochure ]   [ POTS PowerPoint Presentation ]
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  • Simple web based user interface for order entry and submission including ability to upload sole source, quotations and any support documents.
  • Ability to check real-time order status on-line and copy orders for resubmission
  • Simplified fund approval process with configurable workflow based on division level or different order types (IT, wireless device, control substance, maintenance contract, etc.)
  • Integrated user account management and security access with Active Directory and single sign-on as well as pre-defined user profile (e.g. employee ID, email, phone, location, etc.) from NIH employee directory (NED)
  • Role based menu and Common Account Number (CAN) or Project Number level based access control
  • Configurable email notifications throughout the life cycle of the purchase request
  • Orders can be routed and processed by either local office credit card holder or central procurement office (i.e. purchasing agents)
  • Procurement chief can reassign orders when staff on leave or overloaded
  • Built-in unit of measure, object class, category, property codes and vendor look up with data field validation check
  • On-line receiving with the ability to scan and attach packaging slips to assist with vendor payment
  • Integrated with NIH Business System (NBS); orders can be processed, updated and send to NBS to obligate and commit funds via few simple clicks
  • Automatic NIH 1861 form and monthly credit card log printing review and audit
  • Customizable search and report for detailed order listing, budget spending, staff workload and performance management as well as any analysis based on the procurement data
  • Standard and open architecture design that can easily exchange data or integrate with other systems via web services or data warehouse

History of POTS


POTS is a web-based application that written in C#/.NET with MS SQL Database and running on Windows 2008 servers with IIS. The application has been tested in current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari browsers that run on PC or Mac. In addition, the application is integrated with Active Directory and Single sign-on for user account management; and integrated with NIH Business System (NBS) through re-usable web services hosted by Center for Information Technology (CIT) Integrative Service Center (ISC).
The POTS system with source codes is freely available through a software transfer agreement from NINDS Technology Transfer Office*; please contact Dr. Yang Fann (Email: with your request and/or questions.
* The United States government explicitly retains all rights to use the software for any purpose, to have it used on the government's behalf or to allow others to use it.