PC lifecycle plans arrive

Driven by federal legislation and the need to cut costs, agencies are designing
lifecycle management plans for their desktop systems.


The Information Technology Management Reform Act, which mandated that agencies
demonstrate how technology investments help them achieve core missions, has affected
agencies' fiscal 1998 budget requests, as has implementation of the 1993 Government
Performance and Results Act.


But a survey this year of 25 information managers from 12 agencies, conducted by the
Information Technology Association of America of Arlington, Va., suggested it may take
years to see substantial change in capital and strategic planning and the development of
effective chief information officers.


The State Department will undertake a four-year desktop lifecycle program for its
18,000 PCs, CIO Eliza McClenaghan said.


State officials will write a strategic plan that covers total cost of ownership and
ties the PCs' lifecycles to those of State's large systems, McClenaghan said.


The Environmental Protection Agency will implement a four-year lifecycle plan for its
23,000 PCs beginning in fiscal 1998, deputy CIO Paul Wohlleben said.


The agency will review seat management outsourcing plans--buying PC use as a
service--from now to the spring. "We really don't want to be the first" to try
enterprisewide desktop outsourcing, Wohlleben said. "We'd like someone else to work
out the kinks."


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a front runner in outsourcing PCs and related
services through its Desktop and Network Services award to OAO Corp. of Greenbelt, Md.
[GCN, Aug. 25, Page 6].


To ensure 2000 readiness at the desktop level, EPA wants to standardize on Microsoft
Windows 95. Agency officials also plan to upgrade memory and processing power to run Lotus
Development Corp. Notes and other workflow applications, Wohlleben said.


EPA's 33-MHz 486 desktops cannot run such software effectively, he said, so 200-MHz
Pentiums eventually will become the baseline. EPA's four-year lifecycle plan also will
help agency developers better target shifts to new platforms, he said.


But desktop lifecycle planning is by no means common in the government.


The Labor Department has no desktop lifecycle program at headquarters, said Pauline
Perrow, executive assistant at the department's Information Technology Center. "We
replace desktops as technology and our needs dictate," she said.


Many buying decisions are made at departmental or workgroup levels under differing
desktop management strategies.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency, for example, has standardized on Microsoft
Office Professional under Win95, agency spokesman Bill Zellers said. FEMA's public affairs
group, which has 30 desktops, chose a three-year cycle for desktop replacement. But FEMA
as a whole has a four- to six-year lifecycle replacement plan, an agency employee said.


Defense Department agencies take many approaches to PC replacement. Some still run
MS-DOS applications on Zenith Data Systems 286s, whereas others have Pentiums running
Windows, said Bradley Mack, director of defense programs at Government Technology Services
Inc. of Chantilly, Va.


"The units that have the money spend it," he said, even if it means replacing
desktops less than two years old.


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