GSA shores up Seat effort

Concerned about handing over agencywide management of its desktop computers

to a single vendor, the General Services Administration decided last week

it will bring on a second contractor.

The decision to seek another contractor will hinder the agency's effort

to outsource all of its desktops through the Seat Management contract by

the beginning of next year.

"As we get into this, we're learning a lot about what the issues are,"

said Bill Piatt, chief information officer at GSA. "One of the concerns

was whether a single vendor would have the range of skills and resources

needed across the region."

GSA awarded its original task order in December 1998 to Litton/PRC Inc.

In September, worried about the slow rate of employee acceptance and the

depth of Litton/PRC's resources, GSA started to look at the problems emerging

with the almost 2,400 seats in the first phase of implementation, Piatt

said.

The new vendor will compete with Litton/PRC across GSA regions on the

basis of the services offered, Piatt said. "It provides us a certain amount

of additional security if we have two vendors involved. Then if one fails,

we have another that understands our business and what we do," he said.

GSA also found that a lack of standard hardware and software within

the agency slowed implementation. GSA considered bringing in the Federal

Supply Service's IT team to head an internal standardization push. Instead,

the agency decided to choose another Seat or Outsourcing Desktop Initiative

for NASA vendor to allow FSS to focus on developing its online procurement

application, Piatt said.

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