IDP gets in, ZDS left out

The Air Force gained a new Desktop V PC supplier saw an existing one beef up its offerings and lost a long-term vendor all in a few days of early May just before the kickoff of the peak summer ordering season.[

]International Data Products Corp. an ardent but continuously jilted Desktop V suitor finally won the small-business portion of the Desktop V contract last Monday and company president George Fuster has vowed to "provide the Air Force with more bang for its buck" than Hughes Data Systems Inc.[

]Hughes meanwhile upgraded its base-level Desktop V system to a Micron Computer Inc. Pentium 200 MHz PC packed with 16M of RAM a 2.5G hard drive Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Office 97 and a 15-inch monitor priced at $2 299.[

]These two firms will have the Desktop V field to themselves following an Air Force decision on May 2 not to extend the contract held by Zenith Data Systems Corp. Robert Frye director of the Air Force Standard Systems Group said the service decided not to renew the Desktop V contract with ZDS - which has dominated the Air Force PC market for more than a decade - following contract suspensions in the first year based on the company's "failure to maintain an acceptable level of performance on delivery and warranty."ZDS vice president Jim Shea called the decision to not pick up the second option year on Desktop V a "mutual" one between the company and the Air Force. He added that the company's "performance on Desktop V over the past 90 days demonstrates why ZDS has been a leader in the government market for the past 15 years. We have fulfilled every requirement that the Air Force has asked of us."[

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]A Competitive FieldThe removal of ZDS from the playing field will not make the marketplace any less competitive according to the remaining players.[

]Tom Walters Desktop V program manager for Hughes said "We look at every vehicle out there as our competition."[

]IDP has set its sights squarely on Hughes according to Fuster. "We're not going to price ourselves below Hughes...but we do intend to offer more. [

]"For example for $2 299 I intend to offer a 17-inch monitor and a slightly higher-capacity hard drive " he said.[

]Walters said Hughes does not plan to stand still with its Desktop V shopping list either. "We and the Air Force are committed to refreshing this contract much more quickly than last year " Walters said. "Over the next couple of months we plan to add additional portable and desktop PCs including a Pentium II to the contract."[

]Hughes expects to streamline its ordering process for users as the summer buying picks up Walters said. "We just finished a pilot of an electronic ordering program...and I expect a modification to the contract by June that will expand that to other Air Force activities...with a gradual rollout [to all users] throughout the summer. Then buyers will be able to come directly into our Web site.... This should greatly reduce the time flow."[

]Performance IssuesThe Air Force decision not to renew the ZDS contract shows that the service has become serious about performance according to Bob Dornan senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc."Our focus is on the customers and satisfying their needs " Frye said. "SSG is committed to acquisition reform and getting exactly what they are promised."[

]Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish commander of SSG's parent organization the Air Force Electronic Systems Center said "Contractors must perform and meet our expectations.... We are serious about past performance."

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