Micron aims to prime on federal contracts

Micron Electronics Inc. thinks its PCs can make the big time in the federal market and has ambitious plans that include bidding PC deals as a prime contractor.

Though a newcomer to the federal arena the Nampa Idaho-based company already has vaulted into the ranks of top 10 PC vendors on the General Services Administration schedule and expects to place in the top five according to Felice Liston Micron's director of government sales. Along with its recently acquired Zeos subsidiary Micron racked up $16.2 million in sales on the GSA B/C schedule in the first half of fiscal 1996 according to a survey by International Data Corp. Liston said Micron has a goal of hitting $50 million in GSA sales.

The company has equally ambitious plans for large-scale indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) procurements according to Liston. Micron supplies Hughes Data Systems with PCs for the Air Force Desktop V contract a relationship that Liston describes as "extremely satisfying - it's shown our ability to perform on an IDIQ and we've learned a lot."

Liston said that Micron has learned enough that on future bids: "We would rather be a prime [contractor]. If you're not a prime you don't have control. In the future we would like to prime everything first [before seeking out a teaming partner.]" Liston added that as a manufacturer Micron had distinct advantages in the price-driven federal market. The company already has put this strategy into action bidding as a prime on the Army PC-2 contract which Liston described as "a relatively simple bid."

Liston pointed out that she is not a novice at the high-stakes IDIQ game she learned the ropes of the business in the 1980s while working with Jerry Mixon of Austin Texas-based Compu-Add Corp. which won the DT IV contract but lost it after a protest.

Micron already has experience with the Army market it was the original PC supplier to Sysorex Information Systems Inc. on that company's PC-1 deal. Sysorex abruptly switched out Micron for IBM Corp. PCs just before the start of this year's peak federal buying season. Liston said the two companies are in "discussions" about that relationship.

Air Force Users

Despite persistent rumors about Hughes planning a similar switchout on the Air Force DT V contract Liston said she is "comfortable" with the relationship with Hughes even though she is "well aware" of the rumors.

Liston discussed the rumors with a good deal of candor. "Primes should shop around to see what is out there " she said. "We're in daily conversations with Hughes." One result of those conversations will be an upgrade to the PCs Micron supplies on DT V " with at least a Pentium 166 at a good price point " Liston said. The upgrade will take place before the end of the fiscal year she said.

Micron also plans to increase its visibility in the federal PC market by opening a Washington D.C.-area office as well as hiring dedicated regional salespeople Liston said.

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