AF Council busy with printer, software, OEM deals

MONTGOMERY, Ala.'The Air Force IT Commodity Council, flush with what it considers success in cutting PC costs, is turning its attention to digital printing and imaging gear.

The council also is about to embark on a servicewide licensing deal for Microsoft products installed on 525,403 Air Force PCs. And, it is extending its original PC-buying by putting out requests for quotes on three new contracts for small business.

In printing, by picking a few standard devices, making sure the right devices are in the right places and applying the council's tough approach to competitive purchasing, officials believe they can realize savings on a par with those gained on desktop and notebook PC purchases.

Lt. Col. Tom Gaylord, deputy director of the ITCC, said the Air Force 'could drive 10 percent to 30 percent of the cost out of imaging'by rightsizing, standardizing on fewer devices and purchasing more competitively.'

Better printing practices, such as making sure defaults are set to two-sided printing, can also save, he added.

Also under consideration is use of managed services, or pay-per-page, contracts for digital printing, Gaylord said. The service will decide on a strategy within two months, he said.

Since inaugurating the council approach to buying last fall, Gaylord said, the Air Force has avoided some $10 million in the prices of PCs.

Kenneth Heitkamp, the Air Force's deputy CIO for lifecycle management, and former longtime engineering director for the service's Standard Systems Group, said handheld computers, wireless devices, storage area networks and networking equipment will also be considered by the commodity council in coming months.

Under terms of a newly signed deal with Microsoft Corp., the Air Force will pay Microsoft approximately $86 million per year for desktop, notebook and server PC licenses for Windows XP and Office productivity applications, Heitkamp said.

A key benefit, he said, is having standard configurations, which eases maintenance and improves security.

'After three years, the Air Force will have fully-paid up perpetual licenses, including maintenance,' Heitkamp said. The agreement replaces 43 separate licensing agreements between the Air Force and Microsoft.

As for PC contracts, Heitkamp said two of the new contracts will be awarded to small business resellers and one to a small manufacturer of PCs. The Commodity Council wants the Air Force to use the new vehicles for 6 percent of its PC requirements, he said.

The council has 27 members, including CIOs and procurement officials from the Air Force's major commands. It sets up purchasing vehicles for commodity IT items and makes buys quarterly.

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