Air Force council saves on first PC commodity buy

Air Force council saves on first PC commodity buy

MONTGOMERY, Ala.'So potent was the first deal negotiated by the Air Force's new IT Commodity Council that the service was able to buy 12,500 new PCs instead of the 10,000 originally planned.

The PCs, ordered Friday via the new AFWay purchasing Web site against the IT2 blanket purchasing agreement, will go to the Air Force Materiel Command. The roughly $7.5 million order went to Dell Inc.

Dell beat out CDW Government Inc. of Vernon Hills, Ill., Gateway Inc., GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va., and MPC Inc. of Nampa, Idaho. Discounts the vendors offered ranged up to 50 percent below the prices they offered on their schedule contracts.

Air Force CIO John Gilligan said the service bought the computers at a 30 percent discount by buying in bulk. It's a strategy the service plans to use more, he said yesterday at the Air Force Information Technology Conference.

'We're evaluating the other commands planned purchases for desktops and laptops, and we'll bundle them and buy as an enterprise,' Gilligan said.

The Air Force in June formed the council, which has representatives from all the major commands. Its mission is to develop enterprise strategies for buying and managing IT products and services. Air Force Standards Systems Group officials lead the council.

Kenneth Heitkamp, director of the council and SSG technical director, said that by getting the Air Force's major commands to agree to three configurations'one desktop and two notebook PCs'the council can rein in end-of-year spending and lower cost of ownership.

'This is a buying strategy, not a contracting strategy,' he said.

Although the Air Force expects the machines it buys to last three to four years, the council will meet quarterly to update configurations and ask vendors for fresh pricing, Heitkamp said.

For the PCs, the council asked for pricing based on three quantity levels, ranging from single machines to 20,000, he said.

The current standard desktop PC configuration includes a 2.6-GHz Pentium M processor or equivalent, an 80G hard drive, 512M of RAM, a DVD-RW drive, four USB 2.0 ports and a 10/1,000-Mpbs Ethernet network interface card. Notebooks require a 1.6-GHz processor, a 40G hard drive and at least a 14-inch screen.

PCs are only the beginning, Heitkamp said. The council will add printers, software and services, he said, and establish a standard software bundle for PCs. Beyond IT, the Air Force plans to establish councils for other commodities, ranging from uniforms to medical supplies.

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