Comark, McBride offer leasing on GSA sked

Federal resellers Comark Federal Systems and McBride & Associates Inc. in recent weeks have added new leasing options to their General Services Administration schedule contracts giving agencies new ways to mitigate the cost of owning hardware and software.

Comark Federal Chantilly Va. carries primarily PC-related hardware and software. McBride based in Albuquerque N.M. resells laptops PCs workstations and related hardware and software. The new GSA schedule options - called operational leasing - make it possible for agencies to lease products for one- to four-year terms then return the equipment to the vendor at the end of the contract. Until recently most vendors offered only capital leasing in which customers lease to own.

This approach like operational leasing helps spread procurement costs out over a long period of time. But operational leasing according to vendors also makes it easy for customers to keep current technology on their desks without worrying about the cost and hassle of disposing of old equipment. GSA opened the doors to operational leasing last fall.

Tom Nixon senior vice president of sales and marketing at McBride said he first saw the potential of leasing in the federal market while he was with BTG Inc. The potential is only increasing Nixon said. "With technology changing and the cycle of change decreasing in a lot of ways it makes sense for the government to look at operational leasing to manage their business " he said.

McBride added the new options earlier this month and already had identified about a dozen opportunities said Janet Wilson marketing manager at McBride.

Elise Snight GSA business manager at Comark Federal said the company expects a high level of interest in the leasing option. "I have seen it at a higher level in the [Defense Department] community but I think it is just a matter of education" before other agencies catch on Snight said.

Comark Federal is one of the forerunners in leasing having won a $50 million contract with the Census Bureau last year for Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.'s notebook computers which included an option to lease. Based on that experience Comark offers agencies the option of including insurance costs with their leases or insuring the equipment themselves Snight said. McBride offers the same arrangement.Comark also allows agencies to finance maintenance and installation rather than purchase it separately. Leasing has proven to be a very popular option with Census. According to Comark Census has used the leasing options for about 33 percent of the nearly 3 000 orders.

Alba Sanchez the contracting officer for the laptop procurement at Census said the agency needs laptops for its workers to take out on the road and leasing makes it very easy to replace computers as they wear out from the strain. "Because we are in the field with them constantly laptop life for us is shorter " Sanchez said.

In addition to GSA schedule business both vendors also positioned themselves to play a role in the upcoming GSA Seat Management program which would allow agencies to outsource the procurement and management of computer equipment software and services to industry vendors. GSA recently released a draft solicitation for the project.

McBride is looking at the program and is "preparing to provide some input on seat management and how we would approach it " Nixon said. "We want to help them understand what it means and what makes sense to lease and what doesn't " he said.

Other vendors offering operational leasing on the GSA schedule include AT&T System Leasing Comdisco Inc. McBride Amdahl CCL Inc. L.A. Systems Severn Companies Inc. Vion BTG Inc. Force 3 Inc. Electronic Data Systems Corp. Digital Equipment Corp. NCR Comark Federal and MLC Group.

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