Dell pact reflects DHS buying strategy

The Homeland Security Department is beginning to spend money on information technology, a sign that it plans to consolidate wherever possible and negotiate enterprise agreements with vendors.

The department's latest move — awarding an enterprise-wide license to Dell Computer Corp. for Microsoft Corp. products — will save DHS millions over five years, according to Steve Cooper, the agency's chief information officer.

"This is a licensing agreement and does not eliminate redundancies. Its purpose is to save taxpayer dollars," Cooper said. "The agreement does provide a path to wider use of a uniform set of products, which simplifies deployment, maintenance and troubleshooting. This, in turn, saves us time and money."

The five-year agreement is worth $90 million plus a one-year option worth $20 million, according to Microsoft spokesman Keith Hodson.

"What Homeland Security got out of the deal was an effective management tool and the ability to collaborate more effectively across the enterprise," Hodson said.

DHS was particularly interested in a common, secure desktop for all 140,000 users and the "ability to implement secure messaging across the enterprise," he said.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said it is another signal that DHS is trying to consolidate its systems.

"I think it's an important step they have taken," he said. "The agency is increasingly existing in the real world, not just on paper, and it's a benefit."

Dell Marketing LP, the reseller, will manage the enterprise agreement on a day-to-day basis.

The agreement provides DHS with a standard desktop configuration including Windows XP, Microsoft Office Professional and the Core Client Access licenses. It also gives the department access to the full suite of Microsoft office automation products.

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