Letter: Know what you're buying beforehand

Regarding “OFPP: Watch use of brand names in proposals,” usually when we buy, we know what works because we have a lab that tests items before we field them. If we know we don’t want a particular vendor because of a past history, we can usually specify one that we trust, we have evaluated and we know what to expect from.

Also, we buy by original equipment manufacturer (OEM) by part/model number, and suggest a source (distributor, the General Services Administration, etc.) to our procurement folks. They then find the cheapest price.


It is the OEMs that matter. They have the expertise. Sometimes we avoid an OEM if we do not have effective access to its technical support staff because the problems we run into usually require timely responses from those who are intimately familiar with the issues.

Another issue:


I got a Labtec wireless mouse from our local information technology guys (we have to go through them), but it eats batteries. It has eaten 14 AAA batteries in eight months -- it uses two AAA batteries -- an average of 1.75 batteries per month. My Logitech mouse at home eats about one AA battery every eight months.


At this rate, the Labtec mouse will cost about $21 per year in consumables to operate. It takes about 15 minutes to realize the Labtec mouse battery is dying (it starts to operate erratically, which causes a loss of productivity), and another 15 minutes to go to the secretary (you have to chat with the secretary or batteries will be harder to get), get more batteries and then change them. This is half an hour out of my day 20 times a year. At about $40/hour, that is $400 + $21 = $421/year to operate the Labtec mouse.


Go figure...


Frederick Adams
NASA


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