GSA figures show Dell as MAS sales leader

So far this fiscal year, Dell Computer Corp. has a $100 million lead on its closest
competitor, Gateway 2000 Inc., in sales through Multiple-Award Schedule contracts.


Citing long-standing questions about the accuracy of MAS sales figures tallied by the
General Services Administration, industry analysts questioned the figures that GSA
released this month. But GSA officials stand by the numbers.


According to GSA's Federal Supply Service figures, three of the top four MAS vendors on
groups 58 and 70 were direct PC sellers. Vendors on the two schedule programs sell PCs,
Unix workstations, mainframes, and related products and services.


"Don't believe it," said Bob Dornan, senior vice president at Federal Sources
Inc. of McLean, Va., of GSA's figures. "They're painfully aware of how screwed up
they are."


Dornan said GSA's industry-friendly sales reporting policy has led to inaccuracies.
Some vendors report figures for the month in which they receive orders. October sales
figures might include orders taken in September and shipped the following month, Dornan
said. Other vendors post sales when they receive payment, which might occur 30 days or
more after an order was placed.


Dornan questioned GSA's ability to audit the vendor reports and to collect its 1
percent industrial funding fee.


If GSA's figures are correct, they indicate that more agencies are buying PC wares
directly from manufacturers. Besides Dell and Gateway, PC manufacturer Micron Electronics
Inc. also has seen its MAS sales surge. In fiscal 1997, Dell sold $270 million from
schedule and Micron sold $87 million [GCN, Oct. 27, 1997, Page 8].


"It wouldn't surprise me that Dell broke away from the pack, given its growth last
year," said consultant Mark Amtower, president of Amtower and Co. of Ashton, Md.


He said Dell has outstanding products, makes ordering easy and has good customer
service.


The top four vendors so far in this fiscal year are the same vendors in the top ranks
last year, but Gateway and Dell exchanged places.


Gateway's sales may have slowed relative to Dell's because Gateway does not sell
servers on schedule, analysts suggested.


Dell also has begun to offer some new peripherals, including printers from Lexmark
International Inc. of Lexington, Ky.; removable drives from Iomega Corp. of Roy, Utah; and
uninterruptible power systems from American Power Conversion Corp. of West Kingston, R.I.


"Schedule sales are going through the roof," said Paul Murphy, president of
Eagle Eye Publications Inc. of Vienna, Va.


Defense Department officials have designated the schedule program as a preferred buying
source, and fewer federal buyers seem to like indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity
contracts, Murphy said.


Also, agencies might simply be buying earlier during the fiscal year than usual, said
Bob Deller, president of Market Access International Inc. of Chevy Chase, Md.


Some IDIQs are gathering dust, said Terry Kelly, president of Terry Kelly and
Associates of Great Falls, Va. Kelly said this is because schedule vendors have attractive
prices and products, and because the sales representatives are more responsive to
agencies' needs.


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