Virginia getting comfortable with seat

Virginia technology managers advised officials from agencies, institutions

and local governments to conduct detailed cost/benefit analyses before purchasing

new computer equipment or seat management services.

The message was delivered Nov. 8 during a briefing session in Richmond

to acquaint state employees with how to obtain seat management services

under a new statewide contract. Three other sessions were held across Virginia

before the contract was finalized Oct. 1 with DynCorp, Unisys Corp. and

ACS Government Solutions.

Seat management refers to turning over ownership of every desktop computer — or seat — to a vendor who assumes total responsibility for related software,

hardware, upgrades, maintenance, training, support and disposal services.

Virginia is the first state to offer such a complete desktop outsourcing

solution statewide and to local governments. An agency or locality determines

which vendor offers the best solution for its needs and simply issues a

task order.

The Seat Management Vendor Information Day last week focused on the

importance and process of carrying out total cost of ownership evaluations,

said Bette Dillehay, deputy secretary of technology. "It is very difficult

to define what is the best seat arrangement without understanding where

the benefits exist," Dillehay said.

State agencies and institutions, such as colleges and universities,

are not required to outsource their computer operations. But before buying

any new equipment or selecting seat management, they must conduct a study

to determine the life-cycle costs for each method of equipment support,

Dillehay said.

Virginia created an Office of Seat Management to help agencies understand

the process and make their choices. "It's impossible for anyone to anticipate

all the issues that will arise, but we're moving forward with this in very

much a stakeholder environment," Dillehay said.

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