Content and Readability

The federal billing website WAWF needs HUGE simplification

Our small business has recently become a required user of WAWF. I have found this system for vendor invoicing to be a NIGHTMARE!

Another individual on this site has pointed out a series of problems with the site based on browsers supported, ActiveX requirement, etc. I agree with all of these comments, although I note that some or most have already been corrected. (I use Firefox to access WAWF, for example.)

However, the overall problem---with the word "overall" being way too descriptive---from my perspective is that the site tries to perform too many functions (vendor invoicing being only one small portion) with no one having a full overview. I spent two months trying to figure out how to invoice correctly. As a non-government individual I could not access a lot of the online training, the help screens just repeated the info on the main screens with no explanation, my contract number did not pre-populate the invoice items, could not access the examples because the site said it was "in development" or couldn't be accessed by non-government personnel, etc. Our contract technician knew nothing about WAWF, our agency contract specialist just knew enough to be very frustrated and sympathetic, and the contract did not list the info I needed under the same terminology used by WAWF. After giving up on online help I tried calling or emailing every possible source of help, but while I found many very nice people who tried to help, I never quite found anyone who could help me with the entire process. In addition, most couldn't see the same screens I see as a vendor and thus didn't even understand my problem, what I should fill out or not, etc.

I finally figured out how to invoice by trial and error---try it, wait about 2 weeks, get it rejected, try again---delaying our first payment by almost a month. Now, even though our invoices are being accepted and paid, every month my gut clenches with fear that I will make some mistake that will cause our invoice to be rejected weeks down the line and our payment to be delayed similarly.

I think the best thing to do would be to disassemble the questionable consolidation that WAWF represents. However, in any event WAWF needs to provide both help screens and experts that can actually HELP! Folks in the government may be able to call someone in another office that can walk them through what they need to do. Our small company, located in a poor, agricultural county, has no such luxary. The help screens need to address the vendor's needs and actually EXPLAIN the terms required. (i.e., "This is where you insert your Reference Procurement Identifier" isn't all that helpful when you don't have any idea what a "reference procurement identifier" is!) And there needs to be someone to Call or Email who can answer a vendor's questions. And it would be nice if government contracts used the same terminology as WAWF and if a vendor could FIND this info on the cover page (or an appendix?) of their contract!



2 votes
Idea No. 202