Federal PCs run on track, but tangles of red tape trip users

It's not how fast it is, how it much holds or what it costs. Red
tape remains the single biggest obstacle to trouble-free PC operation in the federal
government, readers told us in a recent survey.

GCN surveyed 100 government PC buyers who bought and maintained from one to more than
500 systems in the last 12 months. We asked them to tell us what they bought, how they
bought it and how well their purchases have worked since leaving the box. If the PCs
needed repairs, we asked them to rate the service received.

The picture that emerged is one of reasonable satisfaction with PC technology but
growing frustration with a procurement process that, as one respondent put it,
"sometimes exceeds the product's useful lifespan."

Despite General Service Administration schedule reforms, fast-track procurements and
plans to reinvent government, our respondents often feel overwhelmed. Even after a new PC
arrives on the desk, bureaucratic snafus can tangle up the smooth flow of maintenance,
upgrades and repair.

Some government offices cope with pounds of paperwork, uninformed contracting officers,
cavalier treatment by mandated vendors and unsuitable equipment. In others, thoughtful
buyers leverage federal purchasing power to obtain better deals, faster service and rapid
on-site repairs.

What makes the difference? On Page 66, we'll show you what works--and what doesn't--for
your PC-buying peers.

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