Air Force hardware deals are now open to other services

The Defense Department's Enterprise Software Initiative has begun a pilot with the Air Force IT Commodity Council to let the Army, Navy and Marine Corps make enterprise hardware purchases with deep discounts.

In February, the ESI Working Group, with members from each of the major Defense agencies, decided to run the hardware pilot using the council's vehicle.

The Air Force recently completed its second commodity buy and James Claussen, co-chair of the department's ESI, said the working group wanted other Defense agencies to be involved in the next quarterly buy so they can take part in the bundled savings. The next buy is expected in September.

The services will be able to buy desktop and laptop computers, said Claussen, who spoke at the Army Small Computer Program's IT conference last month in Hershey, Pa.

During the hardware pilot, Claussen said the council would keep 1 percent of the total savings and would give the individual services back 0.3 percent of savings.

Discount plan

The Air Force established the council in June 2003 to develop enterprise strategies for buying and managing IT products and services. The Air Force Standard Systems Group heads the council, which has representatives from all the major Air Force commands. During the council's first bulk buy last summer, the service acquired thousands of computers at a 30 percent discount.

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