VA To Purchase 600,000 PCs - InformationWeek
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11/8/2010
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VA To Purchase 600,000 PCs

Citing an increase in health clinics, Veterans Affairs could spend $815 million in doubling its previous PC order.




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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is considering purchasing 600,000 PCs in a planned refresh that could cost the agency as much as $815 million.

The agency is looking to buy and lease PCs under an eight-year contract, with the option to order equipment during the first four years, according to a request for proposals (RFP) posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

A previous PC-leasing contract ran out on Aug. 3, 2010. That contract with Dell, according to a published report, was for 300,000 PCs.

The VA said it's doubling the number of PCs it will order under the new contract to support an increase in the number of health clinics it operates, according to the RFP.

The agency is seeking machines with both standard and advanced configurations, which matches what exists in its network. It will test potential contractors by creating a custom image called the VA Gold Image and sending it via hard drive to contractors, who must send back both two PCs based on the image to the VA -- one standard configuration and one advanced configuration, according to the RFP.

The VA expects to order 70,000 PCs in the first year of the contract and will not exceed 200,000 PCs in a single year.

IT operations at the VA have had their ups and downs over the past few years, but CIO Roger Baker in the past year has taken steps to turn things around and make better management and purchasing decisions.

One of his biggest moves has been to extend an accountability program that flags IT projects behind schedule, over budget, or both to all of the department's IT projects. That program saved the VA $54 million in its fiscal 2010 budget.

In another accountability move, the department also has begun posting monthly reports of data breaches online. The VA has had some major data breaches in the last several years, including an infamous one in 2006 that spurred a Congressional review and cost the agency $20 million to settle a class-action suit.

Despite these improvements, the agency is still haunted by the ghosts of previous bad decisions by IT management.

Several high-profile projects -- including its Financial and Logistical Integrated Technology Enterprises (FLITE) overhaul of its financial-management system and an appointment-scheduling application -- remain in jeopardy because of previous mishandling by administrators.

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