N.Y. Takes New Tack on PC Procurement

As part of a new statewide PC procurement, New York has decided to get out

of the business of trying to maintain listings for constantly changing PC

prices and technologies.

Until now, state agencies buying PCs went to a World Wide Web site managed

by the Office of General Services to get details about what products are

available on a contract and at what price.

But with its new set of PC contracts, the office has decided to provide

only central contract information on its Web site, directing customers to

its contractors' sites to find detailed information on PC configuration

and pricing.

That arrangement takes the burden of managing that information off New York

procurement officials. It also enables New York customers to take advantage

of online configuration services offered by the vendors.

In past procurements, maintaining price and configuration information

for multiple vendors proved to be a lengthy process, said New York purchasing

officer Barbara Henderson. "With the fast pace of technology, we couldn't

keep up."

New York awarded contracts to 11 PC manufacturers in November, with more

awards possible. The Office of General Services' Web site (www.ogs. state.ny.us/purchase)

lists basic contract information, but customers must follow a hyperlink

to each contractor's "New York State" page to find pricing information.

All contractors' New York pages have common features, including links

for help, contacts and address information, pricing, product information

and e-mail correspondence.

But customers also will be able to take advantage of unique online shopping

tools offered by many vendors.

At a minimum, the state requires each vendor to provide an "online price

configurator" within one year from the start of the contract.

This tool must enable users to view the options available for each PC

and to fully configure a system using the products available under the contract — including chip speed, hard drive, monitor, speaker, mouse, keyboard and

other options — and to price it.

Although many vendors already have developed such a tool for their commercial

customers, New York is looking for a configurator that includes only those

products, options and pricing specific to this contract.

As a safeguard, the PC contracts include a clause that prohibits contractors

from providing a third party with any data collected on New York employees

visiting their sites. Any such data only can be used internally for marketing

the contract.

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