Many Winners in Maryland Education Contract

A dozen integrators and developers capture a share of one of the state's largest technology contracts for schools

The Maryland State Department of General Services in Baltimore has awarded a $7.7 million education contract to a mix of 12 integrators and developers, one of the state's largest education contracts to date.

The one-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, awarded Aug. 14, will provide computer hardware, printers, servers and laptops to Maryland's 1,262 public schools.

The contract will allow every elementary and secondary school in Maryland to use technology in the classroom. The contract is in keeping with Gov. Parris Glendening's pledge to outfit the public school system with the latest technology. Glendening has established a $52.8 million Technology in Maryland Schools Program that targets his goal.

Chris Hudak, the technology coordinator for the Department of General Services in Maryland, said the bid for this technology in education contract was released on July 5 and was awarded in record time. The award process typically takes six months or longer, he said.

"We expected the contract to be very competitive," said Hudak. "There seems to be a lot of demand for PCs in state agencies and schools. There were 167 bidders, and they knew there was money for education projects because of the governor's commitment to technology in education."

One of the integrators, Pulsar Data Systems Inc. in Lanham, Md., recently formed an education division to create computer solutions for schools and manage computer and communication technology within the curriculum.

For example, school administrators will explain what they want from their computer and communications equipment and Pulsar determines the solution.

The company, a national value-added reseller, is currently upgrading Prince George's County schools' technology and computer equipment, installing network file servers, business labs and Internet services.

"We care about where education is going," said Ken Mason, Pulsar's director of education software. "Most Pulsar employees are residents of PG County and their kids go to the schools."

The company has installed and is supporting business labs in all 22 of the county's high schools. The company also works with schools in Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington.

Mason, who has 12 years of computer sales and technical experience and also served as a technical instructor in the military, says the problem with schools is not that educators don't know how to use the technology but that they cannot keep up with the changes in technology.

"Unless you're in the field, it's hard to keep abreast," said Mason. "It's better to seek out someone who knows."

Mason said the contract allows any school district in Maryland to benefit from Pulsar's education service. Before the award, some state schools did not have a contracting vehicle and were unable to use any company's technology in the classroom.

Some 71 percent of the winning suppliers are from Maryland, and 25 percent are minority-owned firms. The contract originally called for computer equipment to be installed only at public elementary and secondary schools but state officials expanded the scope of the contract to include Maryland's state agencies and universities.

Also, the state is implementing Net Weekend '96 Sept. 27-29, which calls for volunteers to wire Maryland schools to the Internet. AT&T, the lead sponsor of the event, has committed 100 hours of free Internet access for every Maryland public school, a value of $330,000.

Maryland's Education Contract suppliers

SupplierProduct line

ISmart, Jessup, Md.Acer

Apple Computer, Cupertino, Calif.Apple Computer

Daly Computer, Gaithersburg, Md. Compaq

Data Networks Inc., Huntsville, Md.Dell

Avnet, Columbia, Md.Digital computers

Gateway 2000, North Sioux City, S.D.Gateway 2000

AV Network, Chantilly, Md. Hewlett-Packard and NEC

Hartford Computer Group, Catonsville, Md. IBM

Laptops Etc., Towson, Md.Olivetti

Consolidated Computer Investors, Hanover, Md.Unisys

Zenith Data Systems, Buffalo Grove, Ill.Zenith computers

Pulsar Data Systems, Lanham, Md.Lexmark, Xerox and AST

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