Keeping PCs up-to-date takes financial savvy

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on IT upgrade trends is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as laser printer users.

Keeping up with advances in technology and getting the funding to do so are the biggest hurdles in upgrading government PCs, say procurement and IT managers who took part in a recent GCN telephone survey.

'Getting the budget to keep up is the biggest challenge,' said an Agriculture Department computer specialist in Stevens Point, Wis.

'The technology is advancing so quickly that by the time we upgrade all the equipment, it's already outdated,' said a Coast Guard IT specialist in Milwaukee.

'Keeping up with new technology is a big challenge,' agreed an Agency for International Development systems manager in Washington.

Others said that convincing upper management of the need to spend money to upgrade PCs is also a major hurdle.

'Getting management to OK spending for upgrades is a challenge,' said an Army Reserve supply technician in Lubbock, Texas.

'Making management aware of the need to spend money' is difficult, said a computer specialist for the Veterans Affairs Department in Austin, Texas.

In Princeton, N.J., a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration IT specialist noted that one stumbling block is 'finding out what is the best hardware and software available.'

For others, the sheer physical process of upgrading the hardware is the toughest part of keeping systems current.

'The biggest challenge in keeping equipment up-to-date is handling the volume of changes to hardware and software,' said a systems manager at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.

'With the amount of equipment this agency has, it becomes a 24-hour job to keep everything up-to-date,' added a Nuclear Regulatory Commission information management specialist in Washington.

Almost all respondents'98 percent'agreed that it was at least somewhat important for their agencies to stay current with the latest technologies; 59 percent deemed it very important.

Nearly three-quarters of managers in the survey, 74 percent, said their agencies were planning desktop PC upgrades in the next 12 months, and many plan across-the-board technology upgrades in the next year. For instance, 67 percent said they plan to buy new network software, and 63 percent will upgrade their PC software.

A large number of managers'85 percent'said they believe their agencies' current desktop PCs are powerful enough to meet most users' needs.


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