EDI Government Definitions

American National Standards Institute [ANSI]

is the coordinator and clearinghouse for national standards in the United States. ANSI does not develop national standards; it charters organizations called "Accredited Standards Committees [ASCs] composed of voluntary representatives from industry, labor, consumer, and government to prepare consensus standards. Upon public comment and approval, ANSI ASCs publish national standards.

ANSI X12 Transaction Sets.

An EDI transaction involves the electronic transmission of a business document that is prepared in accordance with an ANSI X12 format, known as a transaction set. There are currently almost two hundred transaction sets supporting the following business areas: communications and controls, product data, finance, government, materials management, transportation, purchasing, industry standards transition, distribution and warehousing, and insurance.

Applications Link.

The software bridge developed to facilitate the interface between a company's internal business management software and EDI translation software.


[Accredited Standards Committee, a designation assigned by ANSI] was chartered to develop the structure, format, and content of business transactions conducted through Electronic Date Interchange [EDI]. The ASC X12 is supported by the Data Interchange Standards Association Inc. [DISA], its secretariat, and a not-for-profit corporation. DISA manages the ASC x12 membership, balloting, standards development and maintenance, publications, and communications with ANSI on behalf of ASC X12. The result of the ASC X12 efforts are the ANSI X12 Standards.

Bar Coding.

The encoding of alphanumeric characters by a series of varying thickness bars to be read by a scanning device.


The electronic storage of drawings developed using computer-aided design applications.

Department of Defense [DoD] EC/EDI Infrastructure

is the system of interconnected communications and computer systems supporting the exchange of EDI transactions between Government activities and their trading partners. The use of a single infrastructure allows both Government activities and the Value Added Networks to connect to the two Network Entry Points [NEPs] in an economical and efficient manner. The infrastructure also supports the concept of a "single face to industry" which allows Government trading partners to register with the Government once through the Central Contractor Registration [CCR] system in Columbus, Ohio, and be able to do business with any Government procurement activity.

Electronic Commerce [EC]

is the paperless exchange of business information, using Electronic Data Interchange [EDI], electronic mail, electronic bulletin boards, electronic funds transfer and other similar technologies.

Electronic Data Interchange [EDI],

a major part of Electronic Commerce [EC], is the computer-to-computer exchange of business data in a standardized format.

Electronic Commerce Resource Center [ECRC]

is a collection of nationwide centers funded by the Defense Logistics Agency to help companies understand and implement EC/EDI solutions to problems preventing them from conducting business electronically. Further information and locations of ECRCs around the country.

Electronic Funds Transfer [EFT].

The electronic transfer of money between accounts at different banks.

EDI Translation Software

Software that translates data in and out of the ANSI X12 format.


The electronic transmission of information in a non-standardized format.


The electronic transmission of images through a facsimile (FAX) machine.

Federal Acquisition Network [FACNET]

is an electronic system intended to provide a single face to industry by the Federal Government and interoperability within the federal sector. FACNET has parameters built along functional lines, with requirements set forth for Government and private users. The Government-wide FACNET will be designed to: inform the public about contracting opportunities; outline the details of Government solicitations; permit electronic bids and proposals; facilitate responses to questions about solicitations; enhance the quality of data available about the acquisition process; and be accessible to anyone with access to a personal computer and a modem.

Federal Acquisition Regulation [FAR]

is a set of rules governing how the federal government buys goods and services. You can search the FAR on-line. RCAC maintains the FAR in print form as well.

Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act OF 1994 [FASA] [Public Law 103-355],

signed by President Clinton on October 13, 1994, was designed to simplify and streamline the Federal procurement process. It will significantly change how the Government does business. The Act repeals or substantially modifies more than 255 provisions of law to reduce paperwork burdens, facilitate the acquisition of commercial products, enhance the use of simplified procedures for small purchases, transform the acquisition process to electronic commerce, and improve the efficiency of the laws governing the procurement of goods and services.

Implementation Conventions

are a subset of the ANSI X12 standards. They represent an agreement among EDI trading partners on how a specific standard [transaction set] will be used in a specific business context. Thus, implementation conventions specify how all segments and associated data elements will be used. Implementation conventions are necessary because ANSI X12 standards are developed broadly to suit the needs of EDI users in a variety of industries with differing business requirements. In the Federal Government community, implementation conventions have been developed, for specific transaction sets, by DoD for ANSI X12 Version 2003 and 3010, and by the Federal Electronic Commerce Program Management Office for ANSI X12 Version 3040. There is an effort underway within the Government community to standardize on a single Government-wide implementation convention for the ANSI X12 Version 3050. Therefore, if you intend to do business with a Government activity using EDI, you need to use the implementation convention that is used by your Government trading partner. Generally, this can only be either "Federal 3040 Implementation Conventions" [non-DoD] or "DoD 3010 Implementation Conventions."

Method of Transfer of Information Between Government and Its Trading Partners.

Information from a Government activity such as a DoD Contracting Office is sent through an application system to the supporting Gateway. After translation, archiving, and other processing by the Gateway, the information is transmitted to a Network Entry Point [NEP]. NEPs receive the EDI transactions and transfer them to VANs that have been certified and connected to the DoD Infrastructure. VANs distribute the EDI transactions to their customers in ANSI X12 format. EDI transactions are returned to the Government by its trading partners in reverse order.

Network Entry Point [NEP]

is a collection of hardware and software systems which provides communication connectivity between Value Added Networks [VANs] and the Government Gateways to support the exchange of EDI transactions between Government procurement activities and the private sector Trading Partners. There are currently two NEPs located in Columbus, Ohio and Ogden, Utah. A Gateway consists of both hardware and software that provide EDI translation services, archving, security, and environment management for converting non-ANSI X12 business application systems data into ANSI X12 format for Government procurement activities. Gateways typically support numerous Government business systems that are located locally or are dispersed geographically.

Procurement Technical Assistance Center [PTAC]

is an organization funded by the Defense Logistics Agency in partnership with [typically] a state government of other economic development organization to help small businesses compete for federal, state and local government contracts. PTACs exist in forty-six states.

Small Business

for purposes of participation in the Procurement Technical Assistance Program is a business, including its affiliates, that is independently owned and operated, not dominant in the field of operation in which it is bidding on Government contracts, and qualified as a small business under the criteria and size standards in 13 CFR 121.601. For a discussion of small business determination, initiate FAR Search, go to section 19.102 for this topic.

Small Disadvantaged Business

for purposes of participation in the Procurement Technical Assistance Program is a small business concern that is at least 51 percent unconditionally owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged, or a publicly owned business that has at least 51 percent of its stock unconditionally owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and that has its management and daily business controlled by one or more such individuals. The term also means a small business concern that is at least 51 percent unconditionally owned by an economically disadvantaged Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, or publicly owned business that has at least 51 percent of its stock unconditionally owned by one of these entities, that has its management and daily business controlled by memebers of an economically disadvantaged Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, and that meets the requirements of 13 CRF 124.

Trading Partners.

Parties or entities who exchange EC/EDI transactions.

Value Added Network [VAN]

is generally a commercial entity [similar to a long distance telephone company, or a computer on-line service] that provides communications services, electronic store and forward mailboxing, and other related services for EDI transactions. VANs are necessary because it would be too expensive and impractical to establish direct point-to-point connections with all of a company's trading partners. VANs are also useful because they are accessible to a company regardless of physical location, support reliable connectivity to a company's trading partners via varying communications speeds and protocols, provide security for transactions including audit trails, and generally offer other value added services and ANSI X12 EDI translation software.

Value Added Service [VAS]

may be a separate commercial organization [also known as EDI service bureau], or a VAN that provides extra fee-based services beyond standard VAN services to its customers. Such services may range from "EDI-to-FAX" services to complete EDI-integrated business systems. Such VAS services are specifically applicable to small Government contractors who opt not to invest in EDI-related computer hardware and software.
There are advantages and disadvantages to subscribing to value added services such as Fax-to-EDI; on the plus side, they may allow you to quickly participate in EDI-based Government procurement efforts without making the investment in becoming EDI-capable; on the minus side they may place limits on the number and type of transactions you can exchange, take more time to exchange transactions than standard EDI, and be costly in the long term. You should conduct an analysis to determine their suitability to your business and condition. In addition to the traditional, point to point service, some VANs now offer EDI over the Internet. A client transmits its information to a Website where the translation into appropriate X12 or other standards [depending upon the ultimate recipient's need] takes place automatically.

Woman-Owned Small Business

for purposes of participation in the Procurement Technical Assistance Program is a small business concern - (1) which is at least 51 percent owned by one or more women; or in the case of any publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock of which is owned by one or more women; and (2) whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more women.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
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What is a 7PL?

Since I wrote my definitions article on 3PL / 4PL / 5PL / 6PL, 4PL has become almost as well known as 3PL; but the terms 5PL and 6PL have not exactly become household words. Now we have: 3PL + 4PL = 7PL. Let's quickly review these definitions:
Among the services 3PLs provide are transportation, warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, packaging/repackaging, and freight forwarding. Examples of value-added services also provided by 3PL providers might include: (1) pick and pack; (2) marking, tagging, and labeling; (3) product returns and reverse distribution; (4) salvage and scrap disposal; (5) telemarketing.
While a 4PL is sometimes described as non-asset-owning service provider, their role is to provide broader scope managing of the entire supply chain. Now, along comes the 5PL who sometimes define themselves as broadening the scope further to e-business. A 6PL adds in import/export customs. Don't forget, the 1PL is the shipper or the consignee, and the 2PL are actual carriers, warehouses, etc.

Find out about Action Engines and Fair Promise

Supply Chain Management Control Towers

Control towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations; and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a


in order to monitor and assure your supply? Talk to us, we build them!

So just what is an SCM Control Tower? What are the functions of a Supply Chain Control Tower? Who staffs your Supply Chain Management Control Tower?

If you use an EDI VAN for your business, this message is for you. Move past the ancient VAN technology. JWH EDI Services Electronic Commerce Messaging System will bring your EDI operation into the 21st Century. The power of our global EDI network is available on your server, your cloud platform or your application. AND you cannot beat our prices.
You can connect and communicate with all your customers and trading partners through the JWH EDI Services Electronic Commerce Messaging System - Connect with trading partners around the world on a single Network-as-a-Service platform, get real-time transaction visibility and eliminate those manual network processes. It is a pay as you need model. We track all interchanges from the moment they enter the system, along every step across the network, and through the delivery confirmation.

How can we help you? Contact us: Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com

Find out about EDI Global Identifiers and EDI Directories

Should My Client Start A New EDI VAN?

Lot of action in the EDI VAN industry recently. If you know what I am talking about, you are concerned. If you don't know, consider yourself lucky and go celebrate. Well, my client is in the former group and posed an interesting question to me. He is privately-held (and my non-disclosure agreement says I will be shot if I talk about him too much).

He has a food buying group that is heavily dependent on EDI, plus a bunch of other things like community newspapers that he wants to be more heavily involved with EDI. He already owns a couple of computer-related companies, so his question “should we start our own VAN?” was not off the wall.

Well, around 1993/94, I had been a reseller of VAN services (WOW, a lot of water over the dam since then!). That sort of qualified me to sort of an expert level. After studying everything I could, surprise, not much has changed. I guess if you are making money, why rock the boat? Although they utilize X 12.56 Mailbag Standard, their messaging systems predate the Internet. Of the many alternatives (VAN, commerce hubs, peer-to-peer methods, hosted solutions); the VAN reaches the most number of trading partners with the least complexity to be managed.

My conclusion! Most VANs are obsolete! The current externally configured VAN structure (big solutions, long contracts) is better implemented as a Web Services API (Application Programming Interface). That will give you the ability to call and connect to the World of Global EDI on your own! What did I find? A glimmer of hope: ECGRID®. Their ECGridOS® provides the horsepower to build a global e-commerce network. Real-time tracking, like a FedEx® shipment, they track all interchanges from the moment they enter the system, along every step across the network, and through the delivery confirmation. Various interactive reports allow you to see the status of any interchange or mailbag on the

See the full article on Starting Your Own Van

See my other blogs

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com See other blogs about EDI

ec-bp.com The Forum for Supply Chain Integration

ec-bp was established in 2005 as the advocate for lowering the barriers to the adoption of EDI, and our email newsletter has been published every month since that time. Our focus has expanded beyond EDI to encompas the full gamut of supply chain practices and technologies. In addition, our readership has grown to become the largest of any similarly focused publication, and has expanded to include more than 90,000 professionals involved in nearly every aspect of the supply chain.
Today’s supply chain is more than simple transport of EDI documents. The complexity of maintaining compliance with trading partners, managing the ever increasing amount of data, and analyzing that data to drive constant improvement in processes and service take supply chain professionals far beyond the basics of mapping EDI documents.

Supply Chain Management as a Service (SCMaaS)

Supply Chain Management as a Service (SCMaaS) – Is it Real? What a great idea ! Can't somebody just do this for me ? Why do I have to reinvent the wheel ?

One of my projects is looking at supply chain software. I recently looked at software for distributors “Wholesale Distributors; Do They Use ERP or CRM?”. I am planning on doing the same for typical manufacturers and for virtual manufacturers, but I keep thinking that maybe outsourcing is a a good answer too.

Wouldn't it be easier to just purchase a service than having to design, build, debug and roll-out your own solution? Tools, skills, and processes need to be designed from the ground up to support a synchronized demand driven supply chain. Yes there are a lot of tools around, but what is deployed? I feel there are companies looking towards the future of SCM and the potential gains by providing a next generation type of service to their customers.

Required Attire for a Remote Workforce

Ever wonder how your telecommuting colleagues really live? Turns out, many of them actually do work in their pajamas. They also tend to love their work-life balance – to the point where they’d take a pay cut to maintain the status quo. This is a “must read” for both remote workers and for their office-bound managers.
"The Payoff" is for you wherever you are in the e-commerce supply chain. While the first installment of this weekly column emphasized what happens when a consumer walks into a bricks-and-mortar outlet, that's far from the only time payment needs to be convenient, efficient, and secure. This week, let's look at a piece of what happens when retailers pay their suppliers.
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