Interior ponders seat management but will let other agencies try it first

The Interior Department may try seat management at its headquarters to see if it
reduces the burden of running desktop PC operations, an Interior official said.

The concept has appeal because it allows an agency to issue a request for proposals and
lets vendors decide how to meet the specifications. Then the agency picks the best
proposal to meet its needs, said Daryl White, Interior’s chief information officer.

“Seat management makes sense,” White said at the FOSE trade show last month
in Washington. “I don’t have to worry about what computers to buy.”

Before deciding on a pilot program, Interior will wait a year or two to see how the
General Services Administration’s and NASA’s seat management programs shake out.
The department wants to see what problems other agencies encounter before rolling out a
program of its own, White said.

Seat management, which turns over control of an agency’s PC operations to a
vendor, has recently gained momentum in government because proponents say it can reduce
the total cost of ownership of computers.

GSA in January awarded a $114 million Seat Management Program task order to Litton PRC
to support its headquarters in Washington and the Federal Technology Services offices in
Fairfax and Falls Church, Va. [GCN, Jan. 11, Page 1].

NASA in October awarded a $154.9 million task order under its Outsourcing the Desktop
Initiative for NASA to OAO Corp. of Greenbelt, Md., to run PC operations at the Johnson,
Kennedy and Stennis space centers, and the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The agency also in October awarded a $19.6 million ODIN order to RMS Information
Systems Inc. of Vienna, Va., to take over Goddard Space Flight Center’s PC operations
[GCN, Nov. 9, 1998, Page 1].

The Treasury Department last year rolled out a pilot at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms, and has issued a task order for a department pilot under the GSA Seat
Management Program [GCN, March 29, Page 9].

“The problem with seat management is the amount of up-front cash needed,”
said White, adding that he recommends rolling out the concept at Interior headquarters
because it has fewer users than its bureaus.

CIOs must show department secretaries and deputy secretaries the savings seat
management can generate over a three-, four- or five-year span, he said.

Only then will they overcome their fears of freeing up the extra funds to initiate the
concept, White said.

“I believe CIOs should spend more time on the business side of information
technology,” said White, who oversees Interior’s $511 million annual IT budget.

Seat management also comes with training and help-desk services. That frees up a
CIO’s time to formulate policy and help bureaus find IT solutions to their problems,
White said.

“I like the idea of seat management,” he said. “I’m always open to
new ideas.”


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