Micron soars on Air Force PC contract

After being outsold by more than double last year, Micron Government Computer Systems Inc. has passed its primary competitor, Dell Computer Corp., this year on the main Air Force PC procurement.

Dell sold $102 million to Micron's $50 million in fiscal 2000. But since the beginning of this fiscal year, Micron's government unit has tallied $55 million in sales, while Dell has booked $42 million in sales on the Air Force Information Technology Tools blanket purchase agreement for PCs, said Darlene Cowsert, a Standard Systems Group spokeswoman at Gunter Annex on Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

"I don't know that I would read into that that they've taken the lead in any of the [armed] services," said Thomas Buchsbaum, vice president and general manager of Dell's defense and intelligence business segment. Micron's government unit may have picked up a lot of BPA orders from non-Air Force organizations, and it's also possible that its 2001 sales figures were pushed up if they included sales that were booked in September, he said.

"That's a pretty lame explanation," said Harry Heisler, vice president and general manager of Micron Government Computer Systems. "I will tell you unequivocally that we do very little sales outside of the Air Force through IT2." The Air Force is Micron Government Computer Systems' No. 1 customer, and the Coast Guard is the only non-Air Force organization that consistently purchases through Micron's IT2 BPA, he said.

A "significant" series of purchases by Robins Air Force Base, Ga., boosted Micron Government Computer Systems' numbers, Heisler said.

The fiscal 2000 sales figures for both vendors represented sales that the vendors shipped to the Air Force by Sept. 30, 2000, Cowsert said. But some sales from last fiscal year "may not have actually shown up in our system," until October 2001 because the vendors and the Air Force use different accounting systems, she said.

The BPA sales go through Dell's and Micron's General Services Administration information technology schedule contracts.

Gateway Inc. has sold more than $22 million through the Air Force BPA, while CDW-G Inc. shipped $2 million in sales, according to Cowsert.

Micron Electronics Inc. is in the process of selling its PC and server manufacturing unit — of which Micron Government Computer Systems is a part of — and any further reduction in investment in its PC business "would have to [raise] concerns" for government customers, Buchsbaum said.

But Heisler has said that the move is good for his division and its customers because it will enable MicronPC.com to focus on the mission of designing, manufacturing and distributing computers.

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