Intercepts

Just the Facts

What's the story behind the Defense Collaborative Tool Suite? The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Information Systems Agency sponsored an effort to get the armed services to adopt one or two collaborative software products by Oct. 1.

On Jan. 1, Art Money, the Pentagon's chief information officer, issued a draft memo for DCTS, and the Intercepted copy showed that Microsoft Corp.'s NetMeeting and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s SunForum were the two basic products chosen, with Microsoft Digital Dashboard and Outlook, and CUseeMe Networks Inc.'s Conference Server also included.

According to Susan Han-sen, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Money did not sign the DCTS memo before he left the Pentagon on April 6. It'll be difficult to see how the armed forces can implement the memo by Oct. 1 if Money's yet-to-be-named successor ends up signing it.

Fighting Words

You'd think by now that selling PCs to the armed services would be a fairly routine business. After all, most come similarly equipped with Microsoft Windows software and Intel Corp. processors. And with the Army and Air Force blanket purchase agreements for PCs and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet — which includes Dell Computer Corp. PCs — the days of big PC contract battles are over. But if the PC market is dull, PC vendors sometimes make up for it.

Take Harry Heisler, chief of Micron Government Computer Systems Inc., and Tom Buchsbaum, the head of Dell's defense and intelligence business. Micron says it is the No. 1 seller of PCs to the Air Force and says that claim is backed up by Standard Systems Group figures for PC BPAs. When Buchsbaum was asked recently about Micron's claim, he wouldn't concede that Micron is the top dog in the Air Force. Micron's success on the Air Force BPA doesn't mean much, he said. That surprised Heisler, who called it "a pretty lame explanation."

Buchsbaum went further, saying that if he were a Micron customer, he'd be asking questions about the firm's commitment to the PC market.

We're used to dealing with Pentagon officials — so politically astute that they usually manage to say nothing — and were pleasantly surprised by the likes of Buchsbaum and Heisler.

Read the Fine Print

A couple of anonymous Navy employees feel their service is getting ripped off. They e-mailed the Interceptor recently about Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s NMCI contract and the infamous line item 23, a catch-all for miscellaneous — and sometimes costly — products.

For example, a high- resolution scanner is available for $1,783.44 under a three-year lease. But if the scanner's not ordered at the same time as the user's PC, one person said, the price climbs to $2,675.17. Likewise, an Iomega Corp. Zip drive — initial three-year lease priced at $317.88 — would run $608.76 if ordered after PC delivery.

Chris Grey, an EDS spokes-man, said those critics don't take into account the amount of network support the company provides for peripheral devices, as well as the "touch labor" costs of delivery.

Talk about labor pains.

My Cubicle or Yours?

Getting tapped to manage the Army's $453 million contract for what may be the world's biggest distance-learning portal meant Lee Harvey had to get small.

PricewaterhouseCoopers won the contract for Army University Access Online, a pet project of former Army Secretary Louis Caldera. And Harvey, the former division chief for the Army Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center-Washington, went from having an office and a staff of 45 to having a cubicle and no staff.

With Caldera long gone and Harvey incommunicado for the past several months, there's no word on how Harvey is adjusting to his new digs.

Intercept something? Send it to antenna@fcw.com.

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