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The Purchasing On-line Tracking System (POTS) is an electronic purchase request submission, approval and tracking system. It was developed in-house in 2005 and enhanced to become an enterprise system in 2009. The application quickly spread across NIH to 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs) and was subsequently integrated with the NIH Business System (NBS) to enable the electronic transfer of procurement data from POTS to NBS at a rate of over 20,000 orders per month. POTS completely transformed the procurement process. It enables employees to efficiently request services and supplies and to track those requests throughout their life cycle. In addition, POTS provides managerial tools to oversee staff workload and monitor performance, and to track line-item level purchases, allowing budget spending management, volume discount purchases for cost savings, and procurement transparency and accountability. These combined benefits enable system users to better support their research missions by reducing administrative difficulties and allow scientific staff to focus on improving human health through biomedical research and discovery in support of the NIH and HHS missions.


Currently, POTS is hosted by NINDS. Through the POTS User Committee, NIH ICs contribute resources for support, enhancements and maintenance via an annual budget, and meet monthly to share procurement best practices.

Key features of POTS
One-page POTS Summary Brochure exit disclaimer ]  View Image Version
POTS PowerPoint Presentation exit disclaimer ]  View Image Version

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

History of POTS


POTS is a web-based application written in C#/.NET with MS SQL Database. It runs on Windows 2008 servers with IIS. The application has been tested in current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers on PC or Mac. The application is integrated with Active Directory and Single sign-on for user account management and is integrated with NBS through re-usable web services hosted by Center for Information Technology Integrative Service Center.

The POTS system with source codes is freely available through a software transfer agreement from NINDS Technology Transfer Office*; please contact Dr. Yang Fann (Email: with your request and/or questions. 

* The United States government explicitly retains all rights to use the software for any purpose, to have it used on the government's behalf or to allow others to use it.