IDI to field USDA laptops, desktops

The Agriculture Department earlier this month awarded contracts valued at about $18.7 million to Intelligent Decisions Inc. for laptops and desktops to support the department's program to field a common set of technologies.

Under the three contracts, Intelligent Decisions will provide about 8,500 systems. The systems will upgrade the aging computers in the department's field service centers as part of the USDA's Common Computing Environment (CCE) initiative as well as replace existing systems that are not Year 2000-compliant.

CCE will field a common set of desktop computers, applications and other technologies at USDA service centers nationwide to provide farmers with one-stop shopping for services such as farm loan applications and conservation program assistance.

The USDA will field the new computers primarily to its service center employees, who carry out services for the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

The awards were made under the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Computer Store II contract.

Intelligent Decisions, which is a small, disadvantaged, 8(a) business, is ready to meet the demands of the contract, which involve delivering a large quantity of computers in a relatively short amount of time, said Harold Goode, executive vice president of the Chantilly, Va.-based company.

"We recently bought the Dulles Federal Express regional distribution center, which we have made into our office, warehouse and integration center, so we have a tremendous amount of capability," Goode said. "We've invested in our infrastructure, and I think it has paid off."

Gene Renken, deputy project manager of the CCE program at the USDA, said the department will configure one machine for Intelligent Decisions to then replicate on all the systems it will provide to the field offices.

On just this purchase alone, the USDA is saving about 43,000 hours of setup time in the field by requiring Intelligent Decisions to preconfigure the systems, Renken said. In addition, the USDA estimated that it will save about $7.4 million because it is buying the systems in bulk, which enables the vendor to provide lower prices.

Another benefit to CCE is that an employee working for one service agency can easily log on to a computer used by an employee in another service agency, Renken said.

"So if my machine crashes, I can log into another computer with my password and see the same [applications]. You don't have that lost productivity," he said. "With all three agencies using the same office suite, it makes it easier to exchange files. It's a better way of doing business."

Last fall, Intelligent Decisions was one of four vendors that won a contract to provide systems to support the CCE program. The company, along with World Wide Technology Inc., won contracts to provide about 1,200 laptop computers to the department.

The USDA is anticipating the award of contract options to Intelligent Decisions this fall, which would call for additional systems.

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