NSW DET drops ASI and Optima

NSW DET drops ASI and Optima

Department of Education opts for a sole supplier agreement with Lenovo

The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) has axed agreements with local desktop PC manufacturers in favour of a single supplier deal with Lenovo. The news comes just four weeks after the NSW Government chose five vendors to sit on its whole-of-government desktop PC panel: Lenovo, Acer, HP, Optima and ASI Solutions.

DET's desktop PCs procurement contract for schools, the Technology 4 Learning (T4L) program, was introduced in 2005. Supplier spots were originally awarded to IBM/Lenovo, Optima and ASI Solutions. Schools also had the option of buying Apple machines. At least 100,000 PCs were expected to be rolled out to state schools over a four-year period, or about 30,000 per annum.

ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said it had been notified of DET's decision to work solely with Lenovo over the phone. There is no news yet on whether the arrangement will also extend across notebook and server procurement.

Lowe was disappointed and frustrated by the news. "We've seen nothing in writing: we were talking to people about a lot of sizeable projects [under DET] just four weeks ago," she said. "This has come out of the blue for Optima and ourselves.

"We are disappointed in view of the NSW Government's 80/20 rule [of multinational/local suppliers]."

Under the T4L arrangement, schools are divided into 10 geographical regions. Each PC refresh has been undertaken by suppliers simultaneously.

"In the past, Lenovo had certain regions, and we [Optima and ASI] had the other two regions," Lowe said. "We believed this was working because all three companies were very competitive in terms of pricing, product specifications and most importantly, technology services and project management." Optima chairman and managing director, Cornel Ung, said it had spent a lot of time discussing rollout strategies with DET this year.

He was forced to contact the department after hearing rumours about the single supplier arrangement. "We were very disappointed by the short notice," he said. Ung said DET had told him a single supplier arrangement would ensure better value for money and more integrated services.

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