The NSW Department of Education and Training has awarded IBM the contract to give Lenovo’s $110 million stripped-down laptop wireless connectivity in over 463 secondary schools.
Worth $70 million, the contract requires IBM to provide wireless connectivity support to the 220,000 laptops supplied by Lenovo, for users comprising both teachers and students in years 9-12.
This is a significant government ICT contract by any measure, the size of which has rarely been seen in NSW government.
The contract therefore represents a major success for IBM, which historically has not had the same success in the NSW public sector as it enjoys in other jurisdictions. IBM is particularly strong in the Federal Government arena where it has continued its dominance, even in the lean post-Gershon environment, thanks to a $269m contract awarded by Defence in Quarter 1 2008-09.
IBM beat three other shortlisted companies: Lenovo, Australian-owned ASI Solutions and NEC. ASI has been a long term supplier of PCs to NSW government (and DET in particular).
Even though Lenovo failed to get the wireless connectivity deal, it still represents a „bookend‟ of sorts for the two, given that IBM completed the sale of its PC business to Lenovo in 2005.
Value for money is a major consideration in any government procurement. While no doubt price considerations were at the fore, it is also likely that there was a major emphasis in the evaluation on the degree of risk that might have been inherent in awarding the laptop supply contract and the connectivity contract that may have worked in IBM's favour.
In a statement released by IBM, Minister for Education Verity Firth said that the contract will develop student learning practices.
“The way kids learn is going to be transformed... we are not tying students to their desks – learning activities using online resources including the internet can take place in classrooms or the library.” said Ms Firth.