Operations and Applications Technology Committee
November 19, 1996 Minutes



     Operations and Applications Technology Committee Meeting
                              Minutes
                         November 19, 1996


Members present:    George Bergeman, Eugene Brown, Thomas Butler,
                    Jose Chavez (for Gilbert Mehrtens), Carmen
                    Goodman, David Karstens, Carmen Medina, Jose
                    Montero, Martin Olson, Vincent Pizzurro
                    (chair), Daniel Riley, Deborah Rodgers, Steven
                    Sachs, John Sartorius, John Sener (for Jane
                    Townend), David Williams, Jeff Williamson

Also present:  Max Bassett, Robert Bruce, Paul Parker, Janet
               Zilczer

Guests:   Ann Martin


1.   There were no comments or questions on the minutes of the
     last meeting, which had been distributed in October.  

2.   Infrastructure review
     Mr. Pizzurro noted that, upon conclusion of campus-by-campus
     infrastructure surveys, input on additional needs was
     received.  Initial information forwarded by the campuses at
     the end of October has undergone review, revision, and
     clarification.  Dr. Butler gave Mr. Pizzurro some additional
     revisions for the Annandale campus. 

     The solicitation necessary to award new cabling contracts was
     revised to strengthen terms and to address issues raised by a
     DPS review.  The final solicitation is currently being
     prepared by Purchasing for advertisement this week, with an
     anticipated bid opening date in early to mid-December.

3.   Hardware purchases
     As background for this discussion, the VCCS guidelines for
     desktop and notebook configurations were distributed.  (They
     are also accessible through the VCCS home page.)  

     Mr. Pizzurro noted that sizable purchases of microcomputers
     are to be made this year and next, as part of the College
     technology plan.  In view of recurring questions about the
     quality of WIN computers, as compared to "high-end" brand-names, he thought it 
important to consider all contracting
     options available to the College for large-volume purchases.
     He asked that Dr. Zilczer and Ms. Martin outline these
     options.

     In reviewing the history of the current contracts, the
     following key events and outcomes were noted: 

     July, 1995 - January 1996:  transition of computer
     contracting authority from DIT, the Department of Information
     Technology, to DPS, the Division of Purchases and Supply;
     initial attempts by DPS to structure name-brand computer
     contracts without order limits.

     January, 1996 - March, 1996:  legal action by WIN Labs halted
     DPS computer contracting; Attorney General's ruling upheld
     previous $30,000 limits imposed on DIT orders and imposed the
     same limits on prospective DPS name-brand contracts; DPS
     awarded a generic PC contract to WIN Labs (without order
     limits) and multiple name-brand contracts to several vendors;
     the name-brand contract with the deepest discount (Acer,
     40%), also awarded to WIN Labs, has no order limits; all
     other name-brand orders are limited to $30,000, unless a
     proprietary justification, approved by the agency procurement
     authority, is filed; these computer contracts are optional. 

     The definitions of "proprietary" and the applicability of
     procedures for qualifying products and contractors were
     reviewed.  (Agency Procurement and Surplus Property Manual,
     sections 4.3.c and 4.5).

     It was noted that other institutions have higher procurement
     authority and/or complete autonomy, but NVCC must either use
     the optional DPS contracts, or send requirements in excess of
     our procurement authority ($15,000) to DPS for action.  While
     cooperative procurements are permitted, the practice of
     "piggy-backing" on a contract awarded by another institution 
     was prohibited as of July 1, 1996.

     With this as background, Ms. Martin distributed a name-brand
     contract listing, from Acer to Zenith, with contractor
     contacts and applicable discount rates.  Mr. Pizzurro then
     distributed a proposal to conduct a comparative assessment of
     different brands.  The idea was to buy a common configuration
     of about 10 computers each from 10 different contracts, and
     to record performance and failure data for a period of time
     for all 100 computers.  It was suggested that such data could
     be used as a foundation for selecting among the available
     contract brands, and, if need be, for justifying any
     resulting brand preferences for future contract purchases
     and/or DPS-processed solicitations.  There was considerable
     discussion and much concern about the level of effort
     required to capture such data, and whether DPS or other
     authorities would accept such findings.   

     The relative merits and risks of various alternative
     approaches were discussed, including:  processing large bid
     procurements (i.e., DPS-processed requests for proposals or
     invitations for bids for generic configurations or a given
     model "or equal"); one-time large spot purchases versus term
     contracts; dealing with one vendor or multiple vendors.

     Dr. Williams voiced concern that the cost of name-brand
     versus generic computers would translate into fewer computers
     ordered, College-wide.  (Relative cost data for comparable
     WIN generic configurations and for Acer and Zenith brands
     were cited and are tabulated on an attached sheet.)

     Mr. Karstens mentioned the possibility of using the GSA 
     (federal General Services Administration) as project/contract
     administrators, thereby handling our procurement requirements
     through the GSA contract system.  [However, the Purchasing
     office subsequently provided a recent memo, copy attached, in
     which DPS Director David Driver explains that use of GSA
     contracts by state agencies is not authorized.]   

     Dr. Sachs proposed that we pursue (through the Purchasing
     office) cooperative contracting with other agencies and
     negotiations with DPS for more favorable contracting options. 
     Dr. Butler proposed that all provosts should have their
     staffs collect documentation of WIN warranty/service calls
     (i.e. premises work tickets) for computers purchased since
     March, 1996.  
      
     In the meantime, since all computer purchases under the
     current two-year plan need not be completed immediately, it
     was decided that an initial order for Acer computers would be
     placed under the existing DPS contract (without order
     limits).  The quantity to be purchased in this initial order
     would be defined by the immediate (Spring 1997 semester)
     needs for the Alexandria campus.  [NOTE:  The Acer product
     line may be accessed on the Win Labs home page, http://www.
     Win-Labs.com.  A hard-copy print-out is attached.  The most
     pertinent configurations are CLN NO. 9339E and 9559, p. 11,
     AcerPower Business Multimedia Series 133MHz and 166MHz
     Pentiums (with CLN NO. 91.AA994.001 video upgrade, CLN NO.
     91.11010.910 RAM upgrade, and monitor choices, p. 20).  These
     configurations come closest to the VCCS standards, although
     the video memory is DRAM, not VRAM.  Dr. Zilczer will confirm
     the availability of an upgrade to 3-year on-site warranties
     with next business day service.]

4.   Subcommittee reports

     a.  Internet access/E-mail
     
     Dr. Williams reviewed the work accomplished to date and
     reported that a widening of his working group and additional
     technical input would be needed to make further progress. 
     The group has thus far concentrated primarily on E-mail
     client packages, but they have not addressed E-mail server
     requirements and the broader issues of Internet access.  
     Dr. Williams will coordinate with the chairs to the CITGs to
     expand the committee.

     In the meantime, Mr. Parker noted that the MUSIC system
     (slated to be discontinued by the VCCS after June, 1996)
     could be used to test client packages.  Mr. Pizzurro and Dr.
     Zilczer added that the MUSIC license could be extended by
     NVCC (at a cost of $5000 each 6 months), if a need existed
     beyond June.

     b.   Office software suites

     Dr. Sachs reviewed the work of the subcommittee originally
     chaired by Gilbert Mehrtens (who left the College, effective
     November 15).  Mr. Pizzurro distributed additional data on
     the cost of various license and maintenance (upgrade
     protection) options.  It was noted that, historically, when
     individual departments must fund upgrades, a diversity of
     versions/levels results.  Purchasing licenses with
     maintenance increases centrally-funded costs, but insures
     uniformity of versions of software in use (and for training).

     It was moved, seconded, and recommended to the ITC that the
     subcommittee report be approved, and that the College adopt
     Microsoft Office Professional for IT-funded purchase with
     two-year maintenance subscriptions.

5.   Other items
     Dr. Williams raised concerns about virus protection for
     Microsoft Word-specific viruses.  Robert Bruce and Jose
     Chavez described the approaches being taken at Alexandria and
     Annandale.  

     In view of the lateness of the hour, further discussion of
     this and any other items was deferred.  Mr. Pizzurro thanked
     all those remaining for their stamina throughout this lengthy
     meeting.
     
     The next session of the OATC is scheduled for Tuesday,
     January 21, 1997, at 1:30 p.m., Large Board Room, Brault
     Building.




Distribution:  OATC members (and others present)  w/ att. C, D, E
               ITC members   w/ att. A through J

Attachments:   A)   VCCS guidelines for desktop and notebook
                    configurations
               B)   Microcomputer Comparative Assessment Study
               C)   Generic versus name-brand comparative costs
               D)   Memo re: use of GSA contracts
               E)   Acer-brand product listing
               F)   Report of the E-Mail and ISP Working Group
               G)   Report of the Subcommittee on Office Suites
               H)   Cost analyses for office suite software
                    licenses/maintenance


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Last update: 12/4/96
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