Army preps computer BPAs

As the last military service to give up trying to draft its own contracts for PCs, the Army plans to award the first deals under its new approach—blanket purchase agreements—next month.

The service plans to award at least two Army Desktop and Mobile Computing-1 BPAs by April 23, according to Steve Miller, an Army Small Computer Program (SCP) product leader at Fort Monmouth, N.J. Bids are due March 26, he said.

ADMC-1 will include desktop and notebook PCs as well as handheld computers, personal digital assistants and wireless e-mail messengers, said Stephen Larsen, an Army Communications-Electronics Command spokesman at Fort Monmouth.

The $300 million BPAs will replace Army Portable-3, which expires in July, and PC-3, which ends in a year, said Lynda Cook, an SCP product leader at Fort Monmouth.

The advantage of awarding BPAs—as opposed to indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts such as PC-3 and Portable-3—is that the service can award them more quickly, and they're harder to protest, Larsen said. BPAs are based on already-awarded General Services Administration information technology schedule contracts.

Whereas the Army usually selected two vendors to compete against each other for IDIQ contracts, it's likely that it will select three or more vendors so that the service can entice installations that have purchased other vendors' products, said Robert Guerra, president of Robert J. Guerra and Associates, Oakton, Va.

Dell Computer Corp. products sold through Air Force BPAs have been particularly popular with Army buyers, Guerra said.

The downside of ADMC-1 is that Army buyers will have to pay extra if they want to purchase five-year, on-site warranties, which were standard under PC-3 and Portable-3. That feature was particularly popular with Army organizations outside the continental United States.

With more vendors likely to be selected under ADMC-1, it may be more difficult for SCP officials to give good service to Army buyers, but if SCP starts selling more products through ADMC-1, it can hire more people because it's a fee-for-service organization, Guerra said.

Comark Federal Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc., GTSI, Intelligent Decisions Inc., ITC and Micron Electronics Inc. are likely bidders for ADMC-1.

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