3,000 State PCs get BIOS fix for date code error

State is one of the first agencies to tackle PC readiness aggressively, halting
shipments under its flagship SII PC/LAN buy for the last four months.


"We've solved 99 percent of the problem," said Ronne Rogin, a contracting
officer in State's Logistics Management Office.


When 133-MHz Pentiums from BTG Inc. of Fairfax, Va., failed State's year 2000 tests
last November, the department halted further PC and server shipments from the company,
Rogin said.


BTG had managed the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract until Government
Technology Services Inc. of Chantilly, Va., acquired BTG's product sales division earlier
this year.


The State contract, awarded last spring, has a four-year ordering period and an
additional three years of service.


"We thought if it was Pentium, it would be OK," said Rogin of BTG's PCs. But
after problems appeared in testing the Elite Computer Systems motherboards, State
officials demanded diskettes that users would insert into their PCs to flash-update the
BIOSes.


The contract had required BTG to ship year 2000-ready products, Rogin said. Microsoft
Windows NT 4.0, the operating system on the PCs and servers for SII PC/LAN, also helps in
resolving the problem, she said.


The BIOS disk will work automatically once inserted into the floppy drive of a booted
computer. "We wanted to make sure there was little user interaction," said
GTSI's John Gaines, because many users have little technical knowledge.


State buyers have ordered as many as 3,000 PCs and 70 servers through the contract.
After the fix-it disks are shipped, Gaines said, GTSI will resume delivery of PCs and
servers under the contract.


Rogin last week called the 2000-readiness issue "a minor problem ... that took on
a life of its own when the systems weren't compliant."


State has users at 128 missions and Agency for International Development sites
overseas. Some overseas government offices also buy PCs from SII PC/LAN, Rogin said.


But the contract is nonmandatory, and Rogin's organization has recommended that those
with urgent PC or server needs use other contracts until State gives GTSI approval to
begin product shipments again.


SII PC/LAN also supplies networking products, peripherals and software.


Although some buyers have been waiting since August, they have been pretty
understanding overall, said Delese Braxton, a senior program analyst for Troy Systems Inc.
of Alexandria, Va., who also works at State's Logistics Management Office.


Rogin said State soon will modify the contract to offer Pentium II systems from a
vendor other than BTG.


Compaq Computer Corp., whose products GTSI is adding to other IDIQ contracts, is a
likely candidate.


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