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1. WO2007011672 - SYSTEM, PROGRAM PRODUCT, AND METHODS FOR MANAGING CONTRACT PROCUREMENT

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

THAT CLAIMED IS:
1. A system (30) to facilitate contract procurement and contract management over a computer network (33), the system (30) comprising at least one computer accessible to the computer network (33) to define an electronic contracting network server (35), the electronic contracting network server (35) having a processor (37) and memory (39) coupled to the processor (37) to store operating instructions therein, the system (30) being characterized by: a plurality of electronic contracting entity member user computers (47) each positioned remote from the electronic contracting network server (35) and accessible to the computer network (33) and having a processor (49), memory (51) coupled to the processor (49) to store operating instructions therein and to receive data records (43, 45, 801, 803, 805), a display (53) in communication with the processor (49) to display data records (43, 45, 801, 803, 805) using an associated contracting entity member user web browser, and a user interface (54) in communication with the processor (49), to provide each of a corresponding plurality of contracting entity member users with access over the computer network (33) to the electronic contracting network server (35) to thereby facilitate contract procurement;
a plurality of potential contractor member user computers (61) each positioned at a separate potential contractor site remote from the electronic contracting network server (35) and accessible to the computer network (33) and having a processor (63) and memory (65) coupled to the processor (63) to store operating instructions therein and to receive data records (43, 45, 801, 803), a display (67) in communication with the processor (63) to display data records (43, 45, 801, 803) using an associated potential contractor member user web browser stored in the memory (65), and a user interface (68) in communication with the processor (63) to provide each of a corresponding plurality of potential contractor member users with access over the computer network (33) to the electronic contracting network server (35) to thereby view and edit contractor data and to thereby assess and bid for a plurality of pending contracts; and
electronic contracting program product (71) at least partially stored in the memory (39) of the electronic contracting network server (35) to facilitate contract procurement and contract management over the computer network (33) through online contractor registration and online virtual contract room creation and management, the electronic contracting program product (71) including instructions that when executed by the electronic contracting network server (35) perform the operation of forming a virtual contract room (153) to provide enhanced contractor data procurement and contract procurement transaction data dissemination tor a preselected pending contract associated with a contract procurement transaction responsive to approval by at least one of the plurality of contracting entity member users of the contract procurement transaction.

2. A system (30) as defined in Claim 1, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of:
displaying a contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive contracting entity member user input data indicating desired contractor prequalification attributes for the preselected pending contract; and
displaying a contractor profile search results web page (137) including a table (141) of registered contractors having attributes matching the entered contractor prequalification attributes to thereby enhance contracting entity member user selection of a potential contractor to perform the preselected pending contract, the attributes indicated as mandatory or preferred, the table (141) including a plurality of registered contractors having all attributes indicated as mandatory and ordered by registered contractor satisfying a preselected attribute preference for attributes indicated as preferred.

3. A system (30) as defined in either of Claims 1 or 2, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of:
providing a link to a web page displaying historic lessons learned pre-associated with the preselected pending contract, the historic lessons learned pre-associated with the virtual contract room (153) for the preselected pending contract responsive to a contracting entity member user assigning a contract category to the preselected pending contract;
providing a link to a web page (183) to receive and post lessons learned entered by the contracting entity member user indicating experience gained from the contract procurement transaction by the contracting entity member user; and
providing a link to a web page to display key performance indices indicating performance of each main contracting entity organization or department involved in the contract procurement process.

4. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-3, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of: assignmg one of a plurality of potential contractors associated with the virtual contract room (153) a contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation including a contracting entity managerial decision affecting the one of the plurality of potential contractors;
providing a link to the assigned limitation in each of a plurality of web pages associated with the virtual contract room (153) having contracting entity member user contractor decision entry fields responsive to the assigned contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation, to warn the at least one contracting entity member user of the contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation to thereby prevent an inadvertent contracting entity policy deviation by the at least one contracting entity member user.

5. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-4, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operation of periodically iteratively alerting over redundant channels each of a plurality of potential contractors having an outstanding task of such outstanding task until the outstanding task is completed or passage of an associated task deadline responsive to a preselected time attribute to thereby enhance potential contractor deadline compliance.

6. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-5, wherein the system (30) is further characterized by having a plurality of contract rooms (153), and wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of: assigning a personalized contracting member user home web page (603) to each of the plurality of contracting entity member users, each personalized contracting member user home web page (603) including a toolbar (605) having a plurality of user selectable contract procurement functions, an active contract room section (607) providing a separate link to each of a plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, a pending tasks section (609) providing a separate link to contracting entity member user pending tasks from each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, and a recent communications section (611) providing the respective contracting entity member user a separate link to inbound and outbound communications for each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review;

presenting each respective personalized contracting member user home page (603) to each of the plurality of contracting entity member users to thereby provide centralized access to perform contract procurement functions for each of the plurality of contract rooms (153); assigning a personalized contractor member user home web page (645) to each of the plurality of contractor member users, each personalized potential contractor member user home web page (645) including an active contract room section (682) providing a separate link to the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, a pending tasks section (683) providing a separate link to contractor member user pending tasks from the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, and a recent communications section (684) providing a separate link to contractor member user inbound and outbound communications for the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review; and
presenting each respective personalized contractor member user home page (645) to each of the plurality of the plurality of contractor member users to thereby provide centralized access to perform contract procurement functions for at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor.

7. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-6, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operation of assigning a separate main web page (153) to each of a respective plurality of contract procurement transactions to provide multiple user access for requesting and receiving contract bids to define a corresponding plurality of contract rooms (153), each contract room (153) including a tool bar (157) to select plurality of contract procurement functions, a pending tasks section (159) providing access to a separate link to each currently pending task associated with the respective user and associated with the respective contract room (153) filtered from pending tasks of other users, and a recent communications section (161) providing access to separate link to each of a plurality of inbound and outbound communication for the contract room.

8. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-7, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operation of forming a contract procurement research search results web page (205) including a listing of media satisfying preselected search criteria responsive to contracting entity approval of the contract procurement transaction for the preselected pending contract to thereby provide at least one contracting entity member user research data relating to contract procurement from multiple sources including at least two of the following: other active contract rooms, active contracts, expired contracts, contractor profiles, intranet, and a focused selection of Internet sources.

9. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-8, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of:
receiving an online bidding question and attached related documents when present from at least one of the plurality of potential contractors defining a requesting bidder;
assigning a unique serial number to the bidding question including indicia identifying the originating contractor;
disseminating a notice of receipt of the question to at least one contracting entity member user responsive to receipt of the bidding question from the requesting bidder to thereby allow processing of a corresponding answer; and
releasing the bidding question and the corresponding answer according to a selected contracting entity member user release methodology responsive to approval of the bidding question and the corresponding answer by the at least one contracting entity member user, the release methodology including one of the following: a public release, a private release, and a reject release, the public release providing each of the plurality of potential contractors access to the question and the corresponding answer and not providing data identifying the requesting bidder, the private release providing access to the question and the corresponding answer by the requesting bidder and not the other of the plurality of potential contractors, and the reject release providing notification to the requesting bidder that the question has been rejected and a corresponding explanation for the rejection.

10. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-9, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes instructions to perform the operations of:
displaying an online lessons learned profile search web page form (193) to at least one contracting entity member through a respective contracting entity member user web browser, the lessons learned profile search web page form (193) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating selected lessons learned attributes for the historic lessons learned;
receiving search criteria including a plurality of lessons learned attributes from the at least one contracting entity member user; and displaying a listing of lessons learned having attributes matching one or more entered lessons learned attributes to thereby enhance contract procurement management.

11. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 1-10,
wherein the electronic contracting network server (35) is positioned to host the online contract procurement and management website accessible to the computer network (33);
wherein the system (30) is further characterized by having a database (41) accessible to the processor (37) of the electronic contracting network server (35) and having a plurality of data records relating to contracts to define contract data records (43) and a plurality of data records relating to contractor entities to define contractor data records (45);
wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a registrar (73) positioned to access the contractor data records in the database, and positioned to provide a registration web page form (75) to each of the plurality of potential contract member user web browsers to separately register and associate each of the plurality of potential contractors with the online contract procurement and management website,
a contractor profile former (83) positioned to access the contractor data records and to display to each of the plurality of potential contractor member user web browsers an online contractor profile web page form (85) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating potential contractor attributes for each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors to thereby assemble potential contractor pre-qualification data,
a contractor profile searcher (131) positioned to display to at least one contracting entity member user web browser a contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating desired contractor prequalification attributes for a preselected pending contract associated with a contract procurement transaction and positioned to access the contractor data records to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a contractor profile search results web page (137) including a table (141) of registered contractors having attributes matching the entered contractor prequalification attributes to thereby enhance potential contractor selection,
a contract room former (151) positioned to form a virtual contract room (153) for the contract procurement transaction and responsive to approval by the at least one contracting entity member user of the contract procurement transaction for the preselected pending contract to thereby provide enhanced data procurement and dissemination, and
a warning manager (124) positioned responsive to at least one preassigned contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation, to link the at least one preassigned limitation to each of a plurality of web pages accessible by the at least one contracting entity member user and having at least one data field providing entry of a decision affecting a respective at least one of the plurality of potential contractors, to warn the at least one contracting entity member user of a contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation to thereby prevent an inadvertent contracting entity policy deviation by the at least one contracting entity member user.

12. A system (30) as defined in Claim 11, wherein the at least one contracting entity member user is a plurality of contracting entity member users, and wherein the online contract procurement and management website further includes:
a separate plurality of web pages assigned to each of a respective plurality of contract procurement transactions to provide multiple user access for requesting and receiving contract bids to define a corresponding plurality of contract rooms (153), each contract room (153) including a tool bar (157) having a plurality of user selectable contract procurement phase categories for selecting a corresponding plurality of contract procurement functions, a pending tasks section (159) providing a separate link to each currently pending task within the respective contract room (153) associated with the respective user filtered from that of other users, and a recent communications section (161) providing a separate link to each of a plurality of inbound and outbound communication for the contract room, the contract procurement functions including general functions, pre-bidding functions, bidding period functions, and post bidding functions;
a plurality of web pages (603) each assigned to a separate one of the plurality of contracting entity member users to define a corresponding plurality of personalized contracting member user home web pages (603) providing centralized access to perform contract procurement functions and providing centralized access to the plurality of contract rooms (153), each personalized contracting entity member user home web page (603) including a toolbar (605) having a plurality of user selectable contract procurement functions, an active contract room section (607) providing a separate link to each of a plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, a pending tasks section (609) providing a separate link to contracting entity member user pending tasks from each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, and a recent communications section (611) providing a separate link to contracting entity member user inbound and outbound communications for each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review; and
a plurality of web pages (645) each assigned to a separate one of the plurality of potential contractor member users to define a corresponding plurality of personalized potential contractor member user home web pages (645) providing centralized access to perform contract procurement functions including centralized access to at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, each personalized potential contractor member user home web page (645) including an active contract room section (682) providing a separate link to the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, a pending tasks section (683) providing a separate link to contractor member user pending tasks from the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, and a recent communications section (684) providing a separate link to contractor member user inbound and outbound communications for the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review.

13. A system (30) as defined in either of Claims 11 or 12, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a data location selector (464) positioned to receive documents uploaded by the at least one contracting entity member user, positioned to access the contract data records (43) to associate the uploaded documents with associated contract data, and positioned to store the uploaded documents in a system-selected location in the database (41) to thereby enhance document storage and retrieval;
a lessons learned manager (181) positioned to provide a link to historic lessons learned associated with the preselected pending contract and to provide a link to post lessons learned entered by the at least one contracting entity member user indicating experience gained from the contract procurement transaction and responsive to a contracting entity member user selected contract category;

an outstanding task alert manager (264) positioned to periodically iteratively alert over redundant channels each of the plurality of potential contractors having an outstanding task of such outstanding task and responsive to a preselected time attribute to thereby enhance deadline compliance; and
a communications monitor (691) positioned to display to a system administrator each e-mail and fax communication between contracting entity member users and contractor members to thereby provide enhanced monitoring of communications with contractor members.

14. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-13, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a contract template selector (171) positioned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a plurality of contract templates to thereby allow contracting entity member user selection of a contract template best approximating attributes of the contract procurement transaction;
a contract builder (697) positioned to access standard and nonstandard paragraphs to create initial documents for an invitation for proposal and positioned to perform an indexing classification to classify standard and nonstandard language within each section of the document to thereby enhance contracting entity document review;
a contracting entity participant manager (251) positioned to provide a default proposed list of potential contracting entity member users requiring access to the virtual contract room (153) to perform preselected procurement functions, and to receive list modifications from the at least one contracting entity member user including supervisor assignment modifications to the supervisor assigned to the at least one contracting entity member user, to thereby enhance contracting entity member user management;
a procurement schedule manager (261) positioned to schedule and display a schedule of procurement activities for the contract procurement transaction to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to contract entity member user input to thereby prevent inadvertent viewing of an outdated schedule, and positioned to provide schedule update notification to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to modification of the schedule of procurement activities;
contract procurement research data searcher (201) positioned to form a contract procurement research search results web page (205) including a listing of media satisfying preselected search criteria responsive to approval by a contracting entity proponent member user of the contract procurement transaction for the preselected pending contract to thereby provide the at least one contracting entity member user research data relating to contract procurement from multiple sources; and
a procurement status provider (731) positioned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser real-time generated and system summarized statistical data of the contract procurement transaction to thereby enable enhanced monitoring of the contract procurement transaction.

15. A system (30) as defined in any of Claim 11-14, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a bidders list former (271) positioned to form a list of potential contractors to define a current bidder's list (275) responsive to the at least one contract member user selecting potential contractors from at least one of the following lists: a search results list of a search of prequalification criteria fields for a plurality of registered contractors, a general bid slate including a predetermined list of contractors pre-associated with a different category of contract, and a bidders list copied from a previously created bidder's list from another one of a plurality of contract rooms (153), to thereby enhance bidding management;
a bid slate manager (291) positioned to route to each of a plurality of bid reviewer-evaluators a subset of the potential contractors on the current bidders list defining a proposed bid slate to review and approve each potential contractor included in the proposed bid slate responsive to forming the current bidders list to thereby form an approved list of bidders to be provided access to the contract room (153);
a bidder status monitor (311) positioned to monitor contractor transactions within the virtual contract room (153) and to provide a bidder status summary table (315) to thereby provide the at least one contracting entity member user real-time potential contractor activity status updates for potential contractors assigned to the current bidders list;
a bid evaluation manager (341) positioned to form and to provide a plurality of bid evaluators access to a bid evaluation protocol responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby enhance bid evaluation methodology approval by the plurality of bid evaluators; and
a contract value estimator (381) positioned to process a pending contract valuation request form when the bid slate includes less than a preselected number of potential contractors, to thereby provide to an estimate of the contract valuation to compare with bids submitted by the potential contractors included in the bid slate.

16. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-15, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a solicitation of interest manager (361) positioned to access a plurality of solicitation of interest letter templates and to provide contracting entity member user selection and modification of one of the plurality of solicitation of interest letter templates responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby form a solicitation of interest letter, positioned to provide to a subset of the plurality of potential contractors defining a plurality of contractors under consideration an automated alert requesting each of the plurality of potential contractors under consideration to review the solicitation of interest letter responsive to solicitation of interest letter formation, positioned to separately display to each respective potential contractor member user web browser a confidentiality agreement web page form responsive to an attempted viewing of the solicitation of interest letter by a respective potential contractor member user for each respective one of the potential contractors under consideration, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the solicitation of interest letter, and positioned to display the solicitation of interest letter to each respective potential contractor member user of the plurality of potential contractors accepting the confidentiality statement responsive to the acceptance;
a financial evaluation manager (401) positioned to display for each of the plurality of contractors under consideration a plurality of financial statement status indications responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby allow the at least one contracting entity member user online contractor financial status review, and positioned to provide over redundant channels preformatted requests requesting expedited transmission of recent financial statements for at least one of the plurality of contractors under consideration when the financial statement status displayed during the online review indicates such requirement, and to provide follow-up alerts to the at least one potential contractor under consideration until the financial statement status indicates such financial statements are received or a preselected deadline has passed; and
an invitation for proposal manager (421) positioned to access an invitation for proposal letter template and to provide user selection and modification of the invitation for proposal letter template responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby form an invitation for proposal letter, positioned to provide to a subset of the potential contractors under consideration defining a bid slate an automated alert requesting each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to review the invitation for proposal letter responsive to invitation for proposal letter formation, positioned to display a confidentiality agreement web page form thereto responsive to an attempted online viewing of the invitation for proposal letter by a respective contractor member user for each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the invitation for proposal letter, and positioned to display the invitation for proposed letter to the respective contract member user for each of the plurality of potential contractors accepting the confidentiality statement web page form responsive to receipt of the acceptance.

17. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-16, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a job explanation meeting manager (451) positioned to form a preformatted meeting attendance sheet responsive to contracting entity member user input, positioned to display a plurality of standard job explanation meeting presentation templates and to provide contracting entity member user selection and modification of at least one of the plurality of standard job explanation meeting presentation templates responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby form a job explanation meeting presentation, and positioned to receive a digital recording of the job explanation meeting, to associate the digital recording with the contract room (153) and to store the digital recording in the database (41) responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby enhance job explanation meeting documentation;
a site security manager (471) positioned to provide to a subset of the potential contractors defining a bid slate an automated alert requesting each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to access the contract room (153) to access a preselected function in the contract room (153), and positioned to provide requested security-related data responsive to indicia of a security permit requirement to thereby provide preapproved security authorization for each respective potential contractor to physically visit an associated customer entity site related to the pending contract, and positioned to provide to a contracting proponent member user a table displaying accumulated data provided by the potential contractors in the bid slate;
a bidder question and answer manager (481) positioned to receive an online bidding question and attached related documents from at least one of the plurality of potential contractors defining a requesting bidder, positioned to disseminate a notice of receipt of the question to the at least one contracting entity member user and an additional contracting entity member to define a contracting entity member participant responsive to receipt of the bidding question from the requesting bidder to thereby allow drafting of a corresponding answer by either the at least one contracting entity member user or the contracting entity member participant, and positioned to release the bidding question and the corresponding answer according to a selected contracting entity member user release methodology responsive to approval of the bidding question and the corresponding answer by the at least one contracting entity member user; and
an invitation for proposal addenda manager (501) positioned to form an invitation for proposal addenda responsive to contracting entity member user input, positioned to notify a contracting entity member user supervisor to approve the invitation for proposal addenda responsive to invitation for proposal addenda formation, positioned to provide to the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate an automated redundant channel alert notifying each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate that the invitation for proposal addenda has been issued responsive to approval of the invitation for proposal addenda, and positioned to display the invitation for proposal addenda responsive to selection of the invitation for proposal addenda.

18. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-17, wherein a subset of the potential contractors defines a bid slate, and wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a bid opening request manager (521) positioned to present an online post-bid closing date bid opening request form (523) including a warnings section to display each of a plurality of warnings associated with each one of the plurality of potential contractors when so existing responsive to contracting entity member user input, the warnings displayed to ensure that the contracting entity member user is made aware of negative developments associated with any one of the plurality of potential contractors prior to submitting the online post-bid closing date bid opening request form, positioned to notify a preselected contracting entity member user supervisor of a requirement to approve the bid opening request responsive to the post-bid closing date bid opening request form formation, positioned to provide the approved bid opening request to a bid room custodian responsive to approval of the bid opening request, positioned to receive a status of each received bid responsive to bid room custodian input to thereby form a bid status summary;
a technical clarifications manager (541) positioned to receive online technical clarification requests and supporting documentation for release to one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate, positioned to provide to the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate an automated alert alerting the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to answer the technical clarification question, and positioned to receive and store in the database (41) a response and to provide each of a plurality of contracting technical evaluation team member users an electronic message including a link to view online the technical clarification question and associated response responsive to submission of the online response from the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to thereby enhance bidder technical proposal evaluation;
a commercial clarifications manager (551) positioned to receive online commercial clarification requests and supporting documentation for release to the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate, positioned to provide to the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate an automated alert alerting the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to answer the commercial clarification question, and positioned to receive and store in the database (41) a response and to provide each of a plurality of contracting commercial evaluation team member users an electronic message including a link to view online the commercial clarification question and associated response responsive to submission of an online response from the one of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate to thereby enhance bidder commercial proposal evaluation;
a final processing manager (571) positioned to receive and post online a digital image of a signed contract responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby provide for online multiple-contracting entity member user viewing, positioned to form a template message responsive to contracting entity member user identification of the one of the plurality of potential contractors awarded the contract to notify the other ones of the plurality of potential contractors in the bid slate defining unsuccessful bidders of the contract award, and positioned to send the template message to the unsuccessful bidders and to terminate unsuccessful bidder access to the contract room (153) responsive to final processing approval by the preselected contracting entity member users supervisor to thereby prevent initiating unauthorized activities within the contract room;
a checklist menu provider (321) positioned to provide a plurality of links to a corresponding plurality of contracting entity member user checklists to thereby enhance contracting entity member checklist compliance; and
an external document processor (331) positioned to receive and to store in the database a digital copy of each of a plurality of original contractor submitted external documents to thereby allow discarding the original contractor submitted external documents.

19. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-18, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a fast-track contract room template displayer (695) positioned to retrieve a contract room template and positioned to receive user input to enable and disable specific contract room sections to thereby enhance development of a contract room (153) with frequently used contract room functions;
a contract room master (335) positioned to subordinate to one of a plurality of selected contract rooms (153) each other of the plurality of selected contract rooms (153) to form a master procurement contract room (153) responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby provide simultaneous contract room updating for the plurality of contract rooms (153), positioned to disable a plurality of functions within the subordinated contract rooms (153) responsive to forming the master procurement contract room (153), and positioned to display reference instructions for accessing the master procurement contract room (153) responsive to forming the master procurement contract room (153) to thereby perform the disabled functions;
a contract room profile searcher (221) positioned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a contract room profile search web page form having a plurality of entry fields or links thereto adapted to receive user input data indicating desired contract room attributes for a previously formed contract room (153) and positioned to access the contract data records (43) to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a contract room profile search results web page (245) displaying a table of contract rooms (153) having attributes matching one or more entered contract room attributes to thereby enhance contract room formation;
a lessons learned searcher (191) positioned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a lessons learned profile search web page form having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating selected lessons learned attributes for the historic lessons learned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a listing of lessons learned having attributes matching one or more entered lessons learned attributes, to thereby enhance contract procurement management; and a signed contracts searcher (686) positioned to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a signed contracts profile search web page form (701) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating selected signed contracts attributes for previously signed contracts to display to the at least one contracting entity member user web browser a listing of attributes matching one or more entered signed contracts attributes to thereby enhance contract procurement management.

20. A system (30) as defined in any of Claims 11-19, wherein the electronic contracting program product (71) further includes:
a bulletin board manager (620) positioned to provide a solicitation using one of a plurality of bulletin boards, to thereby solicit contractor interest from a plurality of potential contractors to prequalify or to bid for a plurality of contracts, the plurality of bulletin boards including a long-form contracts bulletin board (649) positioned to display a request for and to receive prequalification contractor data not included in the online contractor profile web page form (85), a first short-form contracts bulletin board (669) positioned to display a request for prequalification data for a preselected pending contract and to receive the prequalification data, and a second short form contracts bulletin board positioned to display a pro forma contract and to display a request for bids for the pro forma contract and to receive bids for the pro forma contract;
a bulletin board communications manager (626) positioned to manage, categorize, and store bulletin board announcements and corresponding internal and external instructions;
a contracting manager report generator (771) positioned to periodically access contract data records (43) responsive to a first preselected time attribute to provide a plurality of contracting entity member user managers periodic status reports including data tailored to each respective manager's role authorizations to thereby enhance contract procurement management; and
a contractor manager report generator (773) positioned to access contract data records (43) for each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to a preselected second time attribute to periodically display to a respective contractor manager for each of the plurality of potential contractors recent contractor member user transactions associated with the respective potential contractor to thereby enhance contractor member user supervision.

21. A method of facilitating contract procurement and contract management through an online contract procurement and management website over a computer network (33) between a contracting entity and a plurality of potential contractors, the method being characterized by the steps of:
forming a main contract room web page to define a virtual contract room (153) responsive to approval of a contract procurement transaction for a pending contract to provide multiple user access to manage a contract procurement transaction to thereby provide enhanced data procurement and dissemination; and
providing a respective personalized contract room web page screen for the virtual contract room (153) to each contracting entity member user web browser for a plurality of contracting entity member users and each contractor member user web browser for a plurality of contractor member users, each personalized contract room web page screen providing access to a plurality of hyperlinks to the respective users pending tasks associated with the virtual contract filtered from those pending tasks of other respective users and providing access to a plurality of hyperlinks to recent communications associated with the virtual contract room.

22. A method as defined in Claim 21, being further characterized by the step of providing a personalized home web page (603) to each contracting entity member user web browser for a plurality of contracting entity member users and a personalized home web page (645) each contractor member user web browser for a plurality of contractor member users, each respective personalized home web page (603, 645) providing a consolidated list of pending tasks for the respective user and providing a consolidated list of recent communications for a plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the respective user.

23 A method as defined in either of Claims 21 or 22, being further characterized by the step of periodically providing alerts to each potential contractor having an outstanding task to thereby enhance deadline compliance, the alerts provided via a plurality of transmission channels to each contractor having an outstanding task to negate effects of inadvertent disruption of one of the plurality of transmission channels to thereby enhance contractor response rates.

24 A method as defined in any of Claim 21-23, being further characterized by the step of providing a contractor management user online access to view and monitor decisions and communications made on behalf of the respective contractor entity and decisions and communications issued by the contracting entity to each contractor member user associated with the virtual contract room.

25 A method as defined in any of Claim 21-24, being further characterized by the steps of: providing a contract procurement status web page (733) over the computer network (33) to a contracting entity management user web browser, the contract procurement status web page (733) including sub-organizational based data summarizing interactions between contractor member users and contracting entity member users; and
providing a listing of contract procurement actions for a sub-organization responsive to user selection of a contracting entity sub-organization, each contract procurement action listing linked to a respective procurement action status screen including status comments entered by a contracting entity member user and data illustrating a respective contract procurement schedule.

26. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-25, being further characterized by the step of alerting a contracting entity member user of a contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation responsive to online viewing of a web page form having a data field providing entry of a decision affecting at least one of the plurality of potential contractors to thereby warn the contracting entity member user of a potentially exceeded contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation to prevent an inadvertent contracting entity policy deviations by the contracting entity member user.

27. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-26, being further characterized by the step of logging the name of each contractor member user performing an associated contract procurement transaction and a transaction date and time of the associated transaction responsive to secure entry to the online contract procurement and management website to thereby provide contractor member user accountability contractor management for each of the plurality of potential contractors.

28. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-27, being further characterized by the steps of:
selecting a contract type from a plurality of contract type templates best approximating attributes of the contract procurement transaction to thereby define each of a plurality of preselected contract room functions;
providing a contracting entity participant's assignment web page (253) responsive to contracting entity member user input to allow assignment and modification of a list of a plurality of contracting entity participant users authorized to access the contract room (153) to thereby provide a unified location where the contracting entity member user can assign the contract room (153) a plurality of contracting entity participants;
assigning contract room access authorization to the plurality of contracting entity participant users responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby perform the plurality of preselected contract room functions; and
assigning to the contract room (153) a first link to historic lessons learned associated with the selected contract type responsive to the selected contract type, a second link to historic lessons learned associated with other contract types, and a third link to a new lessons learned web page to associate with the selected contract type new lessons learned resulting from experience with the contract procurement transaction.

29. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-28, being further characterized by the steps of:
forming a database (41) of contractor records (45) including contractor pre-qualification data for a plurality of contractors to thereby reduce repetitive requests for contractor prequalification data and reduce associated processing delays for each respective one of a plurality of procurement transactions;
performing a contractor prequalification criteria field search on the database (41) to form a list of potential contractors having attributes compatible with a selected of one of the plurality of procurement transaction to define a bidders list;
adding to the bidders list at least one of the following: contractors listed in a general bid slate including a predetermined list of contractors pre-associated with a selected contract category, and contractors listed in a pre-approved bidders list associated with another one of the plurality of procurement transactions;
providing access to a procurement schedule for online viewing to each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list, the procurement schedule positioned at a unitary location accessible via a respective potential contractor member user web browser for each respective potential contractor in the bidders list to thereby prevent viewing of an outdated version of the procurement schedule;
providing automated notification of an update to the procurement schedule to each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list, responsive to modification of the procurement schedule, to thereby ensure dissemination of the update; and
providing a bidder status summary table (315) to the contracting entity member user responsive to contractor activity within the contract room to thereby provide the contracting entity member user updated contractor activity status for each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list.

30. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-29, being further characterized by the steps of:
subordinating the contract room (153) to another contract room (153) to form a master procurement contract room (153) to thereby provide simultaneous contract room updating for a plurality of contract rooms (153);
disabling a plurality of functions within the subordinated contract room (153) responsive to subordinating the contract room; and
providing reference instructions to a user to access the master procurement contract room (153) to perform the disabled functions on the subordinated contract room (153).

31. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-30, being further characterized by the steps of:
providing a plurality of internal contracting entity checklists through a checklist menu web page (323) having links to each of the plurality of internal contracting entity checklists; executing each of the plurality of internal contracting entity checklists by a contracting entity member user;
submitting each of the plurality of internal contracting entity checklists to a contracting entity member user supervisor by the contracting entity member user for online approval to thereby enhance checklist processing efficiency;
uploading a digital copy of each of a plurality of original contractor submitted external documents by the contracting entity member user to thereby allow discarding the original contractor submitted external documents; and
associating the plurality of original contractor submitted external documents with the pending contract.

32. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-31, being further characterized by the steps of:
providing online access to a solicitation of interest letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors to determine contractor interest in the procurement transaction for each of the plurality of potential contractors, the solicitation of interest letter provided online to enhance the processing of an indication of interest from each respective one of the plurality of contractors; and
providing online access to an invitation for proposal to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to the indication of interest from each respective one of the plurality of contractors to thereby invite each of the plurality of contractors providing such indication of interest to bid on the pending contract, the invitation for proposal provided online to enhance procurement schedule timetable compliance.

33. A method as defined in Claim 32, wherein the step of providing online access to a solicitation of interest letter includes the steps of:
selecting a solicitation of interest letter template from a plurality of standard templates;
modifying one of the plurality of solicitation of interest letter templates to form a solicitation of interest letter;
tasking a preselected contract representative supervisor to approve the solicitation of interest letter;
providing to the plurality of potential contractors an automated alert requesting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review the solicitation of interest letter;
providing an online confidentiality statement to the plurality of potential contractors responsive to an attempted viewing of the solicitation of interest letter by each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the solicitation of interest letter;
receiving an acceptance, declination, or request to respond later from each of the plurality of potential contractors, periodically disseminating reminders to each of the plurality of potential contractors requesting to respond later until acceptance, declination, or until passage of a solicitation of interest letter deadline; and
providing online the solicitation of interest letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to receiving the acceptance from each respective potential contractor.

34. A method as defined in either of Claims 32 or 33, being further characterized by the step of performing a financial evaluation which includes the steps of:
reviewing online a financial statement status for each of the plurality of potential contractors to determine contractor financial status for each of the plurality of contractors, to thereby verify contractor bidding eligibility;

requesting from at least one of the plurality of contractors expedited transmission of recent financial statements for the at least one of the plurality of contractors responsive to a single input device user input, when the financial statement status displayed during the online review indicates such requirement; and
providing follow-up alerts to the at least one of the plurality of contractors until the financial statement status indicates such financial statements are received.

35. A method as defined in any of Claims 32-34, wherein the step of providing online access to an invitation for proposal includes the steps of:
accessing online an invitation for proposal letter template using a contracting entity member user web browser;
modifying the invitation for proposal letter template to form an online invitation for proposal letter;
tasking a preselected contract representative supervisor to approve the invitation for proposal letter;
providing an automated alert to each of the plurality of potential contractors alerting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review the invitation for proposal letter;
providing an online confidentiality statement to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to the attempted viewing online of the invitation for proposal letter by each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the online invitation for proposal letter;
receiving an acceptance, declination, or request to respond later from each of the plurality of potential contractors;
periodically disseminating reminders to each of the plurality of potential contractors requesting to respond later until acceptance, declination, or until passage of an invitation for proposal letter deadline; and
providing online the invitation for proposal letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to receiving the acceptance from each respective potential contractor.

36. A method as defined in any of Claims 32-35, being further characterized by the steps of:
forming an invitation for proposal addenda by a contracting entity member user;
providing an online link to the invitation for proposal addenda to thereby allow the contracting entity member user access to the invitation for proposal addenda;

tasking a preselected contracting entity member user supervisor by the contracting entity member user to approve and release the invitation for proposal addenda;
providing an automated alert to each of the plurality of potential contractors alerting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review online the invitation for proposal addenda; and
providing the invitation for proposal addenda over the network to each of the plurality of potential contractors, responsive to potential contractor selection of the invitation for proposal addenda.

37. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-36, being further characterized by the steps of:
providing online access to an invitation for proposal to each of the plurality of potential contractors to thereby invite each of the plurality of contractors to bid on a pending contract;
forming a bidding question responsive to review of the invitation for proposal by one of the plurality of potential contractors;
receiving the bidding question over the network (33);
assigning the received bidding question a unique serial number including identification of the originating contractor and number of questions previously asked; and processing the bidding question.

38. A method as defined in Claim 37, wherein the step of processing online the bidding question includes the steps of:
disseminating a notice of receipt of the bidding question to a contracting entity member user and at least one other preselected contracting entity member user to define a contracting entity participant;
drafting an answer to the bidding question by the contracting entity participant;
analyzing the bidding question and corresponding answer responsive to receipt of the answer to the bidding question by the contracting entity member user to determine if the bidding question should be presented to a contracting entity financial or legal department for additional review and approval;
selecting a releasing methodology including one of the following: a public release, a private release, and a reject release, the public release providing each of the plurality of potential contractors online access to the question and the corresponding answer and not providing data identifying the requesting bidder, the private release providing access to the question and the corresponding answer by the requesting bidder and not the other of the plurality of potential contractors, the reject release providing notification to the requesting bidder that the question has been rejected and a corresponding brief explanation for the rejection; and
providing online the bidding question and the corresponding answer to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to approval of the bidding question and the corresponding answer and selection of the releasing methodology.

39. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-38, being further characterized by the steps of:
terminating online access to the contract room (153) responsive to passage of a bid closing date to thereby prevent initiating additional activities within the contract room (153); providing multiple contracting entity users online access to a digital image of a signed contract associated with the contract procurement transaction responsive to final processing approval by the preselected contracting entity member user supervisor; and
providing unsuccessful bid notification over the network (33) to each unsuccessful one of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to final processing approval by the preselected contracting entity member user.

40. A method as defined in Claim 39, being further characterized by the step of processing an online bid opening request to thereby reopen bidding after the bid closing date by performing the steps of:
presenting an online bid opening request form (523) to the contracting entity member user, the online bid opening request form (523) including a warnings section to display each of a plurality of warnings associated with each one of the plurality of potential contractors when so existing, the warnings displayed to ensure that the contracting entity member user is made aware of negative developments associated with any one of the plurality of potential contractors prior to submitting the online bid opening request form;
submitting the online request by the contracting entity member user to thereby open bidding after the bid closing date;
tasking the preselected contract entity member users supervisor to approve the request to open bidding;

forwarding the approved request to open bidding to a bid opening request manager responsive to existence of a preselected one of the plurality of warnings associated with one of the plurality of potential contractors;
documenting bid processing status in an online bid processing status summary for each bid received before the closing date; and
electronically signing the status summary by each of a plurality of bid room member users.

41. A method as defined in either of Claims 39 or 40, being further characterized by the steps of:
processing online technical clarification requests to thereby enhance bidder technical proposal evaluation by performing the steps of:
drafting a technical clarification question by a technical evaluation team member,
submitting the technical clarification question to the contracting entity member user for review and release to at least one of the plurality of potential contractors,
providing an automated alert to analyze the technical clarification question to the contracting entity member user to thereby perform one of the following: issue the technical clarification question to the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors, modify the technical clarification question prior to issue, and reject the technical clarification question,
providing an automated alert to the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors alerting the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors to answer the technical clarification question responsive to issuing the technical clarification question,
receiving an online response responsive to submission of the online response by the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors, and
providing notification to each technical evaluation team member and including a link to the technical clarification question and associated response;
processing online commercial clarification requests to thereby enhance bidder commercial proposal evaluation by performing the steps of:
drafting a commercial clarification question by a commercial evaluation team member, submitting the commercial clarification question to the contracting entity member user for review and release to at least one of the plurality of potential contractors,
analyzing the commercial clarification question by the contracting entity member user to thereby perform one of the following: issue the commercial clarification question to the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors, modify the commercial clarification question prior to issue, and reject the commercial clarification question,
providing an automated alert to the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors alerting the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors to answer the commercial clarification question,
receiving an online response responsive to submission of the online response by the at least one of the plurality of potential contractors, and
providing notification to each commercial evaluation team member including a link to the commercial clarification question and associated response; and
processing online final approval and post-signing status notification of the signed contract by performing the steps of:
uploading the digital image of the signed contract to thereby provide for online multiple user access,
selecting an unsuccessful bid notification template by the contracting entity member user,
modifying the unsuccessful bid notification template by the contracting entity member user to thereby form the unsuccessful bid notification to deliver to each unsuccessful one of the of the plurality of potential contractors,
approving the unsuccessful bid notification by the preselected contracting entity member user supervisor, and
terminating access to functions within the contract room (153) responsive to final processing approval by the preselected contract representative supervisor to thereby prevent initiating additional activities within the contract room, the contract room (153) remaining viewable by contracting entity member users for a preselected time period.

42. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-41, being further characterized by the steps of: forming a database (41) of contractor records (45) including contractor pre-qualification data for each of a plurality of contractors to define a contractor profile for each respective contractor;
forming a plurality of bulletin board web pages defining a plurality of bulletin boards to provide enhanced data procurement and dissemination, the plurality of bulletin boards including a long-form contracts bulletin board (649) structured to request special prequalification contractor data not normally included in the each respective contractor profile for a first pending contract having a value exceeding a first preselected value, short-form contracts bulletin board (669) structured to request prequalification data for a second pending contract having a value less than the first preselected value, and a short form contracts bulletin board structured to provide bidding data for a pro forma contract having a value less than a second preselected value, to provide a request for bids for the pro forma contract, and to provide instructions related thereto; and
soliciting contractor interest from the plurality of potential contractors using the plurality of bulletin boards (649, 669) to perform at least one of the following: prequalify for at least one of the first and second pending contracts and to bid for the pro forma contract.

43. A method as defined in Claim 42, being further characterized by the steps of:
categorizing bulletin board announcements and corresponding internal and external instructions to thereby allow specification of categories of authorized viewers; and
providing a bulletin board listing to each of the plurality of potential contractors to thereby request special prequalification contractor data not normally included in the each respective contractor profile, by performing the following steps:
modifying a bulletin board listing template to thereby form a bulletin board listing including a prequalification questionnaire and having a specified prequalification submission due date,
posting the bulletin board listing,
receiving online a completed prequalification form from each of a plurality of responding potential contractors,
associating the respective prequalification form with a corresponding preestablished contractor profile for each respective responding potential contractor responsive to receipt of each respective prequalification form, and
providing a link to each respective prequalification form in the bulletin board listing responsive to receipt of each respective prequalification form, the link accessible only by a plurality of preselected users through a respective user web browser filtered by category of user.

44. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-43, being further characterized by the steps of:
identifying a lesson learned involving a specific new contract procurement transaction or administration of a specific contract defining a proposed lessons learned;
categorizing the proposed lessons learned according to a selected attribute of the contract procurement transaction or contract administration;
specifying the applicability of the proposed lessons learned;
providing the proposed lessons learned content describing an improved methodology of implementing the specific new contract procurement transaction or the administration of a specific contract, to thereby enhance contract procurement and contract management;
tasking a designated reviewer to review the proposed lessons learned;
saving the lessons learned in a lessons learned database, responsive to approval of the lessons learned; and
providing access to the lessons learned through each of a plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the procurement transactions having an attribute substantially similar to the selected attribute responsive to approval of the lessons learned.

45. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-44, being further characterized by the steps of:
presenting a contractor registration form (75) to an unregistered contractor member user web browser over the computer network (33);
registering a potential contractor responsive to receipt of the contractor registration form (75);
presenting an online contractor profile form (85) to each registered contractor member user web browser over the computer network (33) to receive contractor pre-qualification data from a corresponding first plurality of registered contractors to thereby reduce repetitive requests for contractor prequalification data and reduce associated processing delays for each respective one of a plurality of procurement contracts;
analyzing the pre-qualification data collected with the online contractor profile form (85) against at least one attribute of the each of the plurality of procurement transactions to sepαiaieiy uetermme contractor eiigiDUixy of each of the first plurality of registered contractors for each respective one of the plurality of procurement transactions;
selecting a second plurality of registered contractors to bid on a first one of the plurality of procurement transactions; and
selecting a third plurality of registered contractors to bid on a second one of the plurality of procurement transactions, the second plurality of registered contractors including at least one registered contractor not included in the second plurality of registered contractors.

46. A method as defined in Claim 45, wherein the contractor profile form (85) includes at least two of the following: a company registration data field, a company free-form data field to allow contractor personalized input, a company experience list data field, a company human resource data field, a company equipment data field, a company certificate data field, a company distribution data field, and a company affiliation data field.

47. A method as defined in any of Claims 21-46, being further characterized by the steps of :
providing an online contractor profile form (85) to each of a plurality of contractor member user web browsers over the computer network (33), the contractor profile form (85) including a plurality of separate data fields for entry of potential contractor prequalification data;
updating a contractor profile for each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to data entered in the online contractor profile form;
providing an online contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) to a contracting entity member user web browser over the computer network (33), the online contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) including a plurality of separate prequalification criteria fields to allow a contracting entity member user to search contractor profiles for registered contractors to thereby identify a plurality of contractors meeting preselected criterion, the prequalification criteria fields of the contractor profile search form (133, 135) selectable by the contracting entity member user as mandatory or preferable; and providing an online contractor profile search results web page listing (141) to a contracting entity member user web browser over the computer network (33) responsive to search criteria entered in the online contractor profile search form (133, 135), the online contractor profile search results web page listing (141) providing a listing of each of the piuiauiy 01 registered contractors meeting criteria indicated as mandatory and ordered by number of preferable criteria met by each respective registered contractor.

48. A method as defined in Claim 47, wherein the plurality of separate prequalification criteria fields correspond to the plurality of separate data fields, the method being further characterized by the step of separately searching each of the plurality of separate data fields for each search iteration using search criteria entered in the corresponding plurality of separate prequalification criteria fields.

49. A computer readable medium that is readable by a computer (35) to facilitate contract procurement and contract management over a computer network (33), the computer readable medium comprising a set of instructions that, when executed by the computer, cause the computer to perform operations characterized by:
forming a main contract room web page (153) to define a virtual contract room (153) associated with a contract procurement transaction for a pending contract to provide multiple user access to manage a contract procurement transaction, to thereby provide enhanced data procurement and dissemination;
presenting a selection of contract types from a plurality of contract type templates best approximating attributes of the contract procurement transaction, to thereby define each of a plurality of preselected contract room functions; and
providing a respective personalized contract room web page screen for the virtual contract room (153) to each contracting entity member user web browser for a plurality of contracting entity member users and each contractor member user web browser for a plurality of contractor member users, each personalized contract room web page screen providing access to a plurality of functions associated with the virtual contract associated with the virtual contract room.

50. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 49, the operations being further characterized by:
'providing a contracting entity participants assignment web page (253) responsive to contracting entity member user input to allow assignment and modification of a list of a plurality of contracting entity participant users authorized to access the contract room (153) tu uicicuy jμrυviαe a umπeα location wnere the contracting entity member user can assign the contract room (153) a plurality of contracting entity participants;
assigning contract room access authorization to the plurality of contracting entity participant users responsive to contracting entity member user input to thereby perform the plurality of preselected contract room functions; and
providing the virtual contract room (153) a first link to historic lessons learned associated with the selected contract type responsive to the selected contract type, a second link to historic lessons learned associated with other contract types, and a third link to a new lessons learned web page to associate with the selected contract type new lessons learned resulting from experience with the contract procurement transaction.

51. A computer readable medium as defined in either of Claims 49 or 50, the operations being further characterized by:
assigning a personalized contracting member user home web page (603) to each of a plurality of contracting entity member users associated with a contracting entity, each personalized contracting member user home web page (603) including a toolbar (605) having a plurality of user selectable contract procurement functions, an active contract room section (607) providing a separate link to each of a plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, a pending tasks section (609) providing a separate link to contracting entity member user pending tasks from each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user, and a recent communications section (611) providing the respective contracting entity member user a separate link to inbound and outbound communications for each of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective contracting entity member user to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review;
presenting each respective personalized contracting member user home page (603) to each of the plurality of contracting entity member users to thereby provide centralized access to perform contract procurement functions for each of the plurality of contract rooms (153); assigning a personalized contractor member user home web page (645) to each of a plurality of contractor member users associated with a separate one of a plurality of potential contractors, each personalized potential contractor member user home web page (645) including an active contract room section (682) providing a separate link to the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, a pending tasks section (683) providing a separate link to contractor member user pending tasks from the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, and a recent communications section (684) providing a separate link to contractor member user inbound and outbound communications for the at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor, to thereby provide consolidated contract room access and consolidated contract room task and communication review; and
presenting each respective personalized contractor member user home page (645) to each of the plurality of the plurality of contractor member users to thereby provide centralized access to perform contract procurement functions for at least one of the plurality of contract rooms (153) associated with the respective potential contractor.

52. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 51, the operations being further characterized by periodically iteratively alerting over redundant channels each of the plurality of potential contractors having an outstanding task of such outstanding task until the outstanding task is completed or passage of an associated task deadline responsive to a preselected time attribute to thereby enhance potential contractor deadline compliance.

53. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-52, the operations being further characterized by:
forming a database (41) of contractor records (45) including contractor pre-qualification data for a plurality of contractors to thereby reduce repetitive requests for contractor prequalification data and reduce associated processing delays for each respective one of a plurality of procurement transactions;
performing a contractor prequalification criteria field search on the database (41) to form a list of potential contractors having attributes compatible with a selected of one of the plurality of procurement transaction to define a bidders list; and
adding to the bidders list at least one of the following: contractors listed in a general bid slate including a predetermined list of contractors pre-associated with a selected contract category and contractors listed in a pre-approved bidders list associated with another one of the plurality of procurement transactions.

54. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 53, the operations being further characterized by:
providing access to a procurement schedule for online viewing to each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list, the procurement schedule positioned at a unitary location accessible via a respective potential contractor member user web browser for each respective potential contractor in the bidders list to thereby prevent viewing of an outdated version of the procurement schedule; and
providing automated notification of an update to the procurement schedule to each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list responsive to modification of the procurement schedule, to thereby ensure dissemination of the update.

55. A computer readable medium as defined in either of Claims 53 or 54, the operations being further characterized by providing a bidder status summary table (315) to the contracting entity member user, responsive to contractor activity within the contract room (153) to thereby provide the contracting entity member user updated contractor activity status for each of the plurality of potential contractors in the bidders list.

56. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-55, wherein the virtual contract room (153) is a main contract room (153), the operations being further characterized by:
subordinating the contract room (153) to another contract room (153) to form a master procurement contract room (153) to thereby provide simultaneous contract room updating for a plurality of contract rooms (153);
disabling a plurality of functions within the subordinated contract room (153) responsive to subordinating the contract room (153); and
providing reference instructions to a user to access the master procurement contract room (153) to perform the disabled functions on the subordinated contract.

57. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-56, the operations being further characterized by:
providing online access to a solicitation of interest letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors to determine contractor interest in the procurement transaction for each of the plurality of potential contractors, the solicitation of interest letter provided online to enhance the processing of an indication of interest from each respective one of the plurality of contractors; and
providing online access to an invitation for proposal to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to the indication of interest from each respective one of the plurality of contractors to thereby invite each of the plurality of contractors providing such indication of interest to bid on the pending contract, the invitation for proposal provided online to enhance procurement schedule timetable compliance.

58. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 57, wherein the instructions that when executed by the computer cause the computer to provide online access to a solicitation of interest letter further cause the computer to perform the operations of:
providing a solicitation of interest letter template from a plurality of standard templates;
modifying one of the plurality of solicitation of interest letter templates to form a solicitation of interest letter;
tasking a preselected contract representative supervisor to approve the solicitation of interest letter;
providing to the plurality of potential contractors an automated alert requesting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review the solicitation of interest letter;
providing an online confidentiality statement to the plurality of potential contractors, responsive to an attempted viewing of the solicitation of interest letter by each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the solicitation of interest letter;
receiving an acceptance, declination, or request to respond later from each of the plurality of potential contractors, periodically disseminating reminders to each of the plurality of potential contractors requesting to respond later until acceptance, declination, or until passage of a solicitation of interest letter deadline; and
providing online the solicitation of interest letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors, responsive to receiving the acceptance from each respective potential contractor.

oy. A computer readable medium as defined in ether of Claims 57 or 58, wherein the instructions that when executed by the computer cause the computer to provide online access to an invitation for proposal further cause the computer to perform the operations of:
accessing online an invitation for proposal letter template;
modifying the invitation for proposal letter template to form an online invitation for proposal letter;
tasking a preselected contract representative supervisor to approve the invitation for proposal letter;
providing an automated alert to each of the plurality of potential contractors alerting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review the invitation for proposal letter;
providing an online confidentiality statement to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to the attempted viewing online of the invitation for proposal letter by each respective one of the plurality of potential contractors, acceptance thereof a prerequisite for viewing the invitation for proposal letter;
receiving an acceptance, declination, or request to respond later from each of the plurality of potential contractors, periodically disseminating reminders to each of the plurality of potential contractors requesting to respond later until acceptance, declination, or until passage of an invitation for proposal letter deadline; and
providing online the invitation for proposal letter to each of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to receiving the acceptance from each respective potential contractor.

60. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 57-59, the operations being further characterized by:
forming an invitation for proposal addenda by a contracting entity member user;
providing an online link to the invitation for proposal addenda to thereby allow the contracting entity member user access to the invitation for proposal addenda;
tasking a preselected contracting entity member user supervisor by the contracting entity member user to approve and release the invitation for proposal addenda;
providing an automated alert to each of the plurality of potential contractors alerting each of the plurality of potential contractors to review online the invitation for proposal addenda; and providing me invitation tor proposal addenda over the network to each of the plurality of potential contractors, responsive to potential contractor selection of the invitation for proposal addenda.

61. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-60, the operations being further characterized by:
receiving an online bidding question and attached related documents from at least one of the plurality of potential contractors defining a requesting bidder;
assigning a unique serial number to the bidding question including indicia identifying the originating contractor;
disseminating an automated notice of receipt of the question to a contracting entity member user responsive to receipt of the bidding question from the requesting bidder to thereby allow processing of a corresponding answer;
releasing the bidding question and the corresponding answer according to a selected contracting entity member user release methodology responsive to approval of the bidding question and the corresponding answer by the contracting entity member user, the release methodology including one of the following: a public release, a private release, and a reject release, the public release providing each of the plurality of potential contractors access to the question and the corresponding answer and not providing data identifying the requesting bidder, the private release providing access to the question and the corresponding answer by the requesting bidder and not the other of the plurality of potential contractors, and the reject release providing notification to the requesting bidder that the question has been rejected and a corresponding explanation for the rejection.

62. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-61, the operations being further characterized by:
forming a database (41) of contractor records (45) including contractor pre-qualification data for each of a plurality of contractors to define a contractor profile for each respective contractor;
providing a personal web page (645) for each of a plurality of contractor member users;
forming a plurality of bulletin board listing web pages defining a plurality of bulletin boards (649, 669) to provide enhanced data procurement and dissemination, the plurality of Duiietin boards including a long-form contracts bulletin board (649) structured to request special prequalification contractor data not normally included in the each respective contractor profile for a first pending contract having a value exceeding a first preselected value, short-form contracts bulletin board (669) structured to request prequalification data for a second pending contract having a value less than the first preselected value, and a short form contracts bulletin board structured to provide bidding data for a pro forma contract having a value less than a second preselected value, a request for bids for the pro forma contract, and instructions related thereto; and
providing a link to each of the plurality of bulletin boards in each potential contractor personal web page (645) to thereby request the special prequalification contractor data.

63. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 62, the operations being further characterized by:
modifying a bulletin board listing template to thereby form a bulletin board listing including a prequalification questionnaire and having a specified prequalification submission due date;
posting the bulletin board listing;
receiving online a completed prequalification form from each of a plurality of responding potential contractors;
associating the respective prequalification form with a corresponding pre-established contractor profile for each respective responding potential contractor responsive to receipt of each respective prequalification form;
providing a link to each respective prequalification form in the bulletin board listing responsive to receipt of each respective prequalification form; and
restricting online access of the link to a plurality of preselected users responsive to an identified category of the user.

64. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-63, the operations being further characterized by:
associating historic lessons learned with the virtual contract room (153) for the preselected pending contract responsive to a contracting entity member user assigning a contract category to the preselected pending contract;

prυviαmg m me virtual contract room (153) a first link to historic lessons learned associated with the selected contract type responsive to the selected contract type;
providing in the virtual contract room (153) a second link to historic lessons learned associated with other contract types; and
providing in the virtual contract room (153) a third link to a new lessons learned web page to associate with the selected contract type new lessons learned resulting from experience with the contract procurement transaction.

65. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 64, the operations being further characterized by:
tasking a designated reviewer to review a proposed new lessons learned;
saving the new lessons learned in a lessons learned database responsive to reviewer approval of the lessons learned; and
providing access to the lessons learned through each of a plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the procurement transactions having an attribute substantially similar to the selected attribute responsive to approval of the lessons learned.

66. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 49-65, the operations being further characterized by:
forming a database (41) of contractor records (45) including a plurality of contractor pre-qualifϊcation data fields for a plurality of contractors to thereby reduce repetitive requests for contractor prequalification data and reduce associated processing delays for each respective one of a plurality of procurement transactions;
providing a contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) having a plurality of prequalification criteria entry fields adapted to receive contracting entity member user input data indicating desired contractor prequalification attributes for the preselected pending contract, the attributes indicated as mandatory or preferred;
receiving a completed contractor profile search web page form (133, 135) including user entered search criteria; and
providing a contractor profile search results web page (137) responsive to search criteria entered in the contractor profile search form (133, 135), the contractor profile search results web page (137) including a table (141) of registered contractors having attributes matching the entered contractor prequalification attributes to thereby enhance contracting entity member user selection of a potential contractor to perform the preselected pending contract, the table (141) including a plurality of registered contractors having all attributes indicated as mandatory and ordered by registered contractor satisfying a preselected attribute preference for attributes indicated as preferred.

67. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 66, wherein the plurality of prequalification criteria entry fields correspond to the plurality of contractor prequalification data fields, the operations being further characterized by separately searching each of the plurality of contractor prequalification data fields for each search iteration using search criteria entered in the corresponding plurality of prequalification criteria entry fields.

68. A computer readable medium that is readable by a computer to facilitate contract procurement and contract management over a computer network (33), the computer readable medium comprising a set of instructions that, when executed by the computer, cause the computer to perform operations being characterized by assigning a separate main web page to each of a respective plurality of contract procurement transactions to provide multiple user access for requesting and receiving contract bids to define a corresponding plurality of virtual contract rooms (153), each virtual contract room (153) managed by a respective at least one of a plurality of contracting entity member users and including a toolbar (157) to select a plurality of contract procurement functions, a pending tasks section (159) providing access to a separate link to each currently pending task associated with the respective user and associated with the respective contract room (153) filtered from pending tasks of other users, and a recent communications section (161) providing access to a separate link to each of a plurality of inbound and outbound communications for the contract room.

69. A computer readable medium as defined in Claim 68, the operations being further characterized by forming for each of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) a contract procurement research search results web page (205) including a listing of media satisfying preselected search criteria responsive to contracting entity approval of the respective contract procurement transaction for each associated preselected pending contract, to provide the assigned contracting entity member user research data relating to contract procurement from multiple sources including at least two of the following: other active contract rooms, active contracts, expired contracts, contractor profiles, intranet, and a focused selection of Internet sources to thereby enhance development of each respective one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153).

70. A computer readable medium as defined in either of Claims 68 or 69, the operations being further characterized by
providing an online contract room profile search web page form (233) to a contracting entity member user through a respective contracting entity member user web browser, the contract room profile search web page form (233) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating selected contract room attributes including at least three of the following: closed virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the viewing contracting entity member user, any contract rooms (153) the contracting entity member user is authorized to view, contract procurement requisition number, contract room title, assigned contracting entity member user name, contracting entity proponent organization code, contracting entity proponent representative name, contract signatory name, contract room creation date, and contractor name;
receiving search criteria including one or more attributes from the contracting entity member user; and
providing a listing of virtual contract rooms (153) having attributes matching one or more entered virtual contract room attributes, to thereby enhance contract procurement management, the listing limited to those contract rooms (153) authorized to be viewed by the contracting entity member user based on pre-established user permissions.

71. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 68-70, the operations being further characterized by:
providing an online lessons learned profile search web page form (193) to a contracting entity member through a respective contracting entity member user web browser, the lessons learned profile search web page form (193) having a plurality of entry fields adapted to receive user input data indicating selected lessons learned attributes for the historic lessons learned;
receiving search criteria including a plurality of lessons learned attributes from the contracting entity member user; and prυviαmg a listing or lessons learned having attributes matching one or more entered lessons learned attributes to thereby enhance contract procurement management.

72. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 68-71, the operations being further characterized by:
periodically iteratively alerting over redundant channels each of a plurality of contractor member users having an outstanding task of such outstanding task responsive to a preselected time attribute, the alert provided until the outstanding task is completed or passage of an associated task deadline to thereby enhance potential contractor deadline compliance; and
providing a contractor management user online access to view and monitor decisions and communications made on behalf of the respective contractor entity and decisions and communications issued by the contracting entity to each contractor member user associated with each of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the contractor management user.

73. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 68-72, the operations being further characterized by:
providing a contract procurement status web page (733) over the computer network (33) to a contracting entity management user web browser, the contract procurement status web page (733) including sub-organizational based data summarizing interactions between contractor member users and contracting entity member users;
providing a listing of contract procurement actions for a contracting entity sub-organization responsive to user selection of the contracting entity sub-organization, each contract procurement action listing linked to a respective procurement action status screen including status comments entered by a contracting entity member user and data illustrating a respective contract procurement schedule; and
providing one of the procurement action status screens.

74. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 68-73, the operations being further characterized by: assigning one oi a plurality ot potential contractors associated with one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) a contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation including a contracting entity managerial decision affecting the one of the plurality of potential contractors responsive to contracting entity managerial member input; and
providing a link to the assigned limitation in each of a plurality of web pages associated with the one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) having contracting entity member user contractor decision entry fields responsive to the assigned contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation to warn an assigned contracting entity member user of the contracting entity-imposed contractor limitation, to thereby prevent an inadvertent contracting entity policy deviation by the at least one contracting entity member user.

75. A computer readable medium as defined in any of Claims 68-74, the operations being further characterized by logging the name of each contractor member user performing a transaction related to one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) associated with the contractor member user and a transaction date and time of the transaction to thereby provide contractor member user accountability to contractor management for each of a plurality of potential contractors.

76. A computer memory element containing, stored in signal bearing media, a database containing the following data in computer readable format being characterized by:
data (181) indicating a plurality of tasks each associated with one of a plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) and assigned to one of a plurality of contracting entity member users;
data (803) indicating a plurality of communications each associated with one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153) and associated with at least one of the plurality of contracting entity member users;
data (45) indicating contractor prequalification attributes for a plurality of potential contractors including a contractor-personalized description of the contractor, contractor experience, contractor human resources, contractor equipment, contractor asset distribution, and contractor affiliation; and data (183) indicating contract procurement lessons learned each associated with at least one of the plurality of virtual contract rooms (153), at least one contract type attribute, and a lessons learned originator.