Army uses its bulk buy policy

Inspired by saving $13.6 million, it plans to consolidate more buys

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Army has taken a step toward more efficient information technology management by completing its first bulk hardware buy.

The service consolidated its requirements and spent $37.5 million last year to buy about 68,000 PCs and monitors, which saved about $13.6 million. IT officials expect bulk buys to help the Army improve its network management, computer security and IT acquisition.

Computer security and configuration management go hand in hand, said Vernon Bettencourt, the Army’s deputy chief information officer.

“We view this as a way to provide configuration management for LandWarNet,” he said. “With configuration, it becomes easier to establish and conduct information assurance.”

LandWarNet is the name for the service’s voice, video and data networks.

Consolidating requirements also lowers the Army’s unit costs for IT. “We’re trying to show individual users that combining their requirement with other Army users results in a lower unit price for everyone and big savings for the Army,” said Michelina LaForgia, assistant project manager of the Army Small Computer Program. LaForgia and Bettencourt spoke at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual winter conference last month.

The bulk buying policy is based on a memo that the Office of the Army CIO issued last year. It requires all Army organizations to purchase their hardware via two consolidated buys per year. The memo asks organizations to use vendors on the Army Desktop and Mobile Computing-1 contract until it expires.

“The Army Desktop and Mobile Computing agreements will be used to consolidate Army requirements and result in efficiencies and costs savings while satisfying networthiness goals through standardized capabilities,” according to the memo from Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army’s CIO.

Organizations submitted their requirements in August and placed orders in September.

All Army organizations that participated in the bulk hardware buy in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 received discounts of 23 percent to 33 percent, regardless of the quantity ordered, officials said. At no additional cost, organizations received those PCs loaded with software based on a servicewide standard configuration, known as the Army Golden Master. The Army Small Computer Program oversees the bulk buy program.

Dell supplied about 73 percent of the hardware that the Army purchased in that initial bulk buy. Hewlett-Packard supplied 21 percent; Lenovo, 4 percent; Gateway, 2 percent; and MPC and Panasonic, less than 1 percent.

The Army initiated its second bulk hardware buy Feb. 21.

The Air Force’s success with bulk buys sparked the Army’s interest in such buys. Air Force officials began commodity hardware buys in 2003 through the service’s IT Commodity Council.

The Air Force credits the council’s policy on hardware purchases with yielding millions of dollars in savings. Because of the policy, the Air Force has standard configurations on about 20 percent of its hardware inventory.

Treating IT as a commodity offers definite advantages for government agencies, technology experts say. The technology is more standardized and the products are more mature and reliable, which improves network and configuration management, said Steve Kelman, a Federal Computer Week columnist, professor of public management at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

“I’m a big fan of this,” he added.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group