ATF may beat estimates

ATF may beat estimates

Patrick Schambach

By Claire E. House

GCN Staff

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' seat management program may beat general industry cost estimates by more than $4,000 per seat, according to numbers shared this month by the bureau's chief information officer.

The bureau has calculated an annual cost of $3,300, not counting WAN services, for the three-year, 4,000-seat deal it awarded to Unisys Corp. in December 1997 as the first federal enterprisewide seat program, bureau CIO Patrick Schambach said. The figure rises to about $4,300 per year when network services are added, Schambach said.

At a GCN Forum luncheon in Washington last month, Schambach talked about ATF's recent systems successes, lessons learned and future agenda.

ATF's numbers are well below the $8,000 annual cost estimated in a January seat study by GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn., but on par with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center seat management numbers based on contract costs [GCN, Jan. 25, Page 12].

Schambach said ATF is comparing the number with the industry estimate, which may take into account factors not included in the bureau's calculations.

'We're actively going through the process now with GartnerGroup, using their total-cost-of-ownership model, to come out with maybe a more apples-to-apples comparison on per-seat costs,' Schambach said.

Critical to the success of the program, which is going from contract award to full rollout in less than seven months, were individual site surveys and service agreements for each of ATF's 223 locations, he said.

'A zillion issues come up office by office, location by location. And all issues have to be worked through,' he said.

Schambach also credited active program management by a 20-person ATF team, a close vendor-bureau relationship and Unisys' efforts.

Taking measures

He offered a heads-up on one issue that the bureau did not initially address: ongoing service levels. He said he is working with Unisys to develop measures for services, such as help desk response time, and ramifications for not meeting those measures.

Responding to questions, Schambach said employee replacements and layoffs have not been an issue because the bureau had minimal technical support to begin with. As for contingencies, the contract includes a monthly buyout opportunity should the bureau decide that the deal is not working.

The seat project is part of the ATF Enterprise Systems Architecture program, which the bureau planned more than two years ago to bring systems up to speed. WAN and desktop PC services are complete, as are initial phases of repository and case management systems. Human resources and financial systems are scheduled to roll out in October, Schambach said.

Now that the infrastructure is coming along, the bureau's internal CIO Council wants to pump up ATF data and communications systems.

The systems would support tactical operations for law enforcement agents and help collect the $500 million in taxes that the bureau receives every two weeks from the alcohol and firearms industries.

The bureau's CIO Council has eight members, one from each of ATF's assistant director offices.

It develops and manages systems projects and monitors their budgets and return on investment.

What's in ATF's future?


  • Electronic filing for the alcohol and
    firearms industries
  • Knowledge and information
    management processes
  • Laboratory management system with
    access for field agents
  • Tactical operations systems for data
    and mobile voice support
  • Videoconferencing
  • Year 2000 wrap-up

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