IT vendors open crisis hot lines

In response to today's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, GTSI Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. have established hot lines for government customers requesting products and services.

At about 4:20 p.m. Eastern time, GTSI circulated an e-mail announcing a 24-hour hotline to provide access and support for all of its customers. "We are prepared to accept verbal orders for all IT products when necessary to meet any emergency deployment needs," the e-mail stated. "We have put our supply of manufacturers and distributors on alert to honor emergency government requirements and [Defense Property Accountability System] rated needs."

The GTSI message said that priority fulfillment and delivery would be given to emergency service orders from the departments of Defense and Justice, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, the intelligence agencies and other government emergency service providers.

"The message here is that we're a company that focuses on government as a customer," said Dendy Young, chairman and chief information officer of GTSI. "This is clearly a time of crisis for our customers. We feel strongly that we need to be there for our customers and help in any way we can."

Young said that his company has an advantage over some other companies because GTSI has inventory in Washington, D.C. "We think there is some value in having the product available," he said, pointing out that shipping is problematic right now because all domestic flights are grounded.

As of 6 p.m. Eastern time today, Young said the hot line had so far received only a few preliminary calls from customers asking about available products. "Most customers are still assessing the damage," he said.

The GTSI hot line number is (800) 999-GTSI. Customers can also visit www.gtsi.com for information and support.

Dell Computer Corp. has also set up a toll-free number for its federal, state and local government customers who have "an immediate request for products and services as a result of today's events," said a Dell spokesperson. Dell is stressing that the 24-hour service is for emergencies only.

The spokesperson said that Dell is sending e-mail to its customers to directly notify them of the hot line.

The Dell hot line number for state and local government customers is (866) 357-3355. The number for federal government customers is (800) 727-1100.

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