'Seat' risk oversold
Federal agencies that have resisted the concept of desktop outsourcing as
too radical a solution are making a foolish mistake.
That's the message, in so many words, from the handful of agencies that
have taken advantage of GSA's Seat Management program to turn over management
of their desktop computers, networks and applications to commercial contractors.
In fact, the more seemingly radical elements of desktop outsourcing
turn out to be quite sensible, even if they aren't its strongest selling
For example, some agencies look askance at bundling management services
into straightforward contract line items. It's similar to a plumber offering
to do a big job for a flat fee: How do you know you won't end up spending
more than you would have if you had gone with an hourly rate?
But Seat Management customers say the arrangement has proven to be a
real blessing. For the first time, those agencies can put a real number
on information technology costs, making it easier to manage their overall
Seat also has not had the deleterious impact on agency staff members
that some skeptics had expected. Rather than put people out of their jobs,
outsourcing IT management services has freed the in-house staff to work
on more interesting projects.
And so on. Desktop outsourcing, as radical as it sounds, turns out to
be quite mundane — as mundane, it seems, as the work itself. Industry proponents
of desktop outsourcing say agencies need to view technology services as
they would a utility like electricity — it's vital to daily operations,
but it's not something you should have to think about.
Desktop outsourcing makes that shift in thinking possible.
The industry proponents are right. Especially now, given the dearth
of IT workers across government, agencies should not be in the business
of managing day-to-day systems and network operations, any more than they
should be generating their own electricity.
Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.