When feds buy IT online, dependability counts

When feds buy IT online, dependability counts

Survey finds using the Web edges out other methods, and many buys are made at the local level

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

Federal procurement managers are going digital in a big way.


Who decides


Local site

Office or workgroup

Division or bureau

Department or agency

Remote headquarters

Other
51%

44%

44%

39%

19%

3%

Note: Percentages exceed 100 percent because respondents selected more than one category.


More than half of the purchasing managers contacted in a GCN telephone survey'56 percent'said they buy computer products online. A future GCN survey will take a closer look at online buying trends.

The open market also was popular for buying hardware and software, with 55 percent of feds surveyed using that source, the survey found.

And the General Services Administration schedule is used by half of the feds GCN surveyed.

About 42 percent use credit cards to make purchases, and only 16 percent of buyers contacted said they use governmentwide acquisition contracts or indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts.

Depend on IT


What they're spending


Less than $50,000

$50,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $499,999

$500,000 to $999,999

$1 million to $4.9 million

$5 million or more
12%

16%

24%

14%

13%

21%



Overwhelmingly, buyers said that what they want most from their purchases is a product they can depend on, ranking product reliability at 94 on a scale of 100 among factors they consider when purchasing computer products. Best-value price and customer service and support also were important factors.


What products agencies plan to buy in the next year





Hardware

PCs

Printers

Input devices (Keyboards, mice, etc.)

Monitors

Drives or storage products

Notebook PCs

Servers

WAN or LAN products

Handheld or palm PCs

Other
83%

79%

79%

78%

64%

63%

55%

49%

30%

7%

Software

Office suites

Operating systems

Word processors

Spreadsheets

Graphics or presentation

Networking

Security or encryption

Web authoring or management

Desktop publishing

GIS, CAD or scientific

Other
63%

57%

57%

57%

54%

54%

52%

52%

44%

23%

7%

Note: Percentages exceed 100 percent because the respondents selected more than one category.


Also of note is that 30 percent of those surveyed said they plan to buy handheld PCs in the next year.

Office suites topped software shopping lists, being named by 64 percent of respondents. Next in line were operating systems, word processors and spreadsheets at 58 percent each.

Who makes the buys? Half of the feds polled said that at least some purchasing decisions about information technology are made at the local level. Departmentwide or agencywide decisions were identified by 39 percent of the respondents.

Most buyers'91 percent'said they depend on computer publications to research IT purchases. They also use a variety of other product information resources, including manufacturers' literature, research on the Internet, and input from users inside and outside their organizations.

Only 40 percent said they use consultants, and only 37 percent reported that retailers' sales representatives were a source of information.

How much do federal buyers spend on IT annually? Thirty-four percent of feds in the survey spend at least $1 million a year on computer products.

Another 21 percent said they spend $5 million or more annually on hardware and software.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed'24 percent'said they buy at least $100,000 to $499,000 worth of IT products a year. Only 12 percent spend less than $50,000 annually on computer products, the survey found.


The GCN Reader Survey is designed to provide data on computer and communications trends, technologies and product preferences. This survey on procurement trends is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as procurement or purchasing managers.

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