For feds, upgrading PCs is a never-ending task

For feds, upgrading PCs is a never-ending task

BY RICHARD W. WALKER | GCN STAFF


The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on PC product preferences is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as PC users.
At the Army Corps of Engineers' district office in Sacramento, Calif., upgrading desktop PCs for the office's 1,100 users is pretty much an ongoing process.

'There's always somebody who needs a new machine,' said Ronald Niemi, a computer installation support specialist at the Sacramento office.

Broadly speaking, he said, the office's upgrade cycle for PCs is three to five years. Some 72 percent of federal information technology managers surveyed by GCN reported a similar upgrade cycle.

But in Sacramento, the corps' IT managers tend to replace PCs whenever users'especially those in critical areas such as engineering design'need more power and speed, Niemi said.

'If there's new computer-aided design hardware and the guy in design has an older machine with too small a drive, then we'll replace that machine with one with a stronger processor and a bigger hard drive,' he said.

In Sacramento, the corps' current standard PC upgrade, set by the office's information management staff, is to a Dell Computer Corp. PC with 128M of RAM, a 30G to 40G hard drive and a processor running at 1 GHz, Niemi added.

At Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, the Civil Engineering Division also is on a three- to five-year upgrade plan for its 500 PC users, said Ollney Hoopai, a computer specialist for the division.

But when a user's task is mission-critical, he or she gets an upgrade immediately, regardless of the cycle.

'We just go out and get [a new PC] right then and there,' Hoopai said. 'We don't wait the three to five years.'

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