ATF pioneers PC outsourcing

ATF used desktop PC outsourcing
because it didn’t have the budget to replace all its PCs, CIO Patrick Schambach says.


The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
launched desktop PC outsourcing long before the General Services Administration announced
its Seat Management contracts.


The bureau embraced the concept to keep up with rapidly changing technology, said ATF
chief information officer Patrick Schambach. “It was a must for us,” he said,
because there was no other way to refresh the bureau’s PCs fast enough. “There
was no other way to get it there,” he said.


It took a lot of preparation to make the program successful, Schambach said.


Planning for the project had already started when Schambach came to ATF in early 1997.
Before that, the bureau had a decentralized structure and was saddled with incompatible,
stovepipe systems.


ATF had no enterprisewide access to e-mail, Internet or an intranet, he said. Nor was
the help desk helpful.


“There was just too much out there to try and support,” Schambach said.


ATF couldn’t write a large contract for new PCs, he said. “To try and buy
this outright, you couldn’t get there from here,” he said. “We didn’t
have the budget to do a large buy-and-replace program.”


Before it could consider outsourcing its desktop PC services, the bureau had to
determine what technology it had and what it needed. “The only way you know that is
by going through this pretty in-depth requirement survey,” he said.


“They really did some requirement analysis on their own,” said Everett Dyer,
vice president and general manager of the network and desktop practice program at Unisys
Corp., which won the ATF contract. “They did their homework up front.”


ATF’s schedule was aggressive: The bureau awarded the contract to Unisys in
October and began the rollout in January. The program was fully implemented by April,
missing deadline by just two weeks, Schambach said.


The contract required Unisys to survey systems and train 3,000 users at 188 ATF
offices.


ATF has standardized its desktop PCs to 266-MHz Dell Pentium IIs with 64M of RAM and
3.2G hard drives. For notebooks, ATF chose the TransPort Trek 2 266-MHz with 64M of memory
and a 2G removable hard drive from Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho. ATF now uses
Microsoft Windows 95 as its desktop operating system and Office 97 Professional as its
office suite.


Schambach suggests managers take a hard look before considering desktop PC outsourcing.
“I don’t think people totally understand what it’s all about,” he
said.


ATF saw desktop PC outsourcing as a way to cut costs, but that was secondary to
improving performance and updating technology, Schambach said. Agencies considering seat
management need to measure gains in other ways, he said. “You’ve got to find
another driver besides dollars and cents,” he said. 

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