Virginia to outsource management of computers

Virginia last week became the first state to adopt a plan to outsource the management of desktop computers at all levels of government.

Virginia's Council of Technology Services has been working on the state's ground-breaking plan since November 1998 and is now working toward finalizing a multivendor statewide contract, said Michael Thomas, deputy secretary of technology and director of the Department of Information Technology.

Once awarded, the contract will be open to all state agencies, local governments and educational institutions.

The state adopted the strategy after a 10-month pilot at the Virginia Department of Transportation. Under a $2 million contract, Alexandria, Va.-based Halifax Corp. assumed desktop procurement, maintenance training, technology refreshment and other services for the department's 1,500-plus desktops.

The deal has reduced the average cost of managing each desktop by about two thirds, according to Virginia officials. "The response to the Department of Transportation pilot literally has people knocking on the door to get into it," Thomas said.

Other pilots were conducted throughout the state, including an independent one at the University of Virginia, and all have proven successful, Thomas said. "The pilots helped determine different things and basically have told us that the programs do work well, and the potential for savings is tremendous."

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