US Coins

Mint places Order Management System upgrades on hold

Development of a fully integrated Order Management System for the U.S. Mint, including a revamped website, has been placed on hold while officials assess whether the efforts are in the right direction.

U.S. Mint Deputy Director Richard A. Peterson informed employees at all Mint facilities July 12 that the Mint’s contract with the primary information technology contractor, British-based Venda, to develop a state-of-the-art system to replace the current decade-old system, had been suspended indefinitely the week before.

Venda was awarded a six-year contract by the Mint on Sept. 19, 2011, worth up to $100 million, to develop a new e-commerce and order management solution system. Among the Mint goals in replacing the current system was to eliminate order placement problems of the type customers encountered when attempting to place orders Oct. 27, 2011, online and by telephone for the 100,000 five-coin 2011 American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin sets.

Peterson said over the past six months, U.S. Mint officials became increasingly concerned whether Venda’s efforts would be able to effectively and efficiently integrate all of the ancillary software and hardware components.

Peterson said the Mint contracted with a third-party consultant as to what actions can be taken in the interim to minimize risks to the current system.

The Mint awarded a second contract in May for $430,000 to MITRE Corp. to conduct an “independent verification and validation” assessment to determine whether Venda’s efforts are taking the Mint in the right direction, according to Tom Jurkowsky, director of the Mint’s Office of Public Affairs.

“When I assumed my position in early 2011, I stated that fixing our order management system was one of our top priorities,” Peterson said. “That has not changed. It remains one of our highest priorities. ...

“The Mint is required by law to offer numismatic versions of our coins to the public. We have a robust customer base that purchases between five and seven million products each year and generates between $450 million to $700 million in revenue. Those customers — and the new ones we want to pursue — deserve a state of the art system. As anxious as we all are to deliver that state of the art system, we need to ensure we do it correctly.”

“This measure, along with others recommended by the consultant, reduce the scalability and supportability risks of the current system,” Peterson said. “After we complete our assessment, we may or may not decide to continue on the current path. So until we know that, we’ve suspended the work our primary contractor, Venda, was doing to interface with our current infrastructure.”

Venda was working on a “commerce solution known as software-as-a-service (SaaS).”

SaaS is a form of “off-the-shelf” software to integrate “front-end” functions with “back-end” functions, according to the Mint. Currently, for order processing, the U.S. Mint uses two different systems — the front-end one for the Web-interface or e-commerce site that customers must navigate when ordering products; and another, the back-end, to maintain customer data, process orders and manage payments. ¦

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