AMD to report public tender traps

Von Julian Bajkowski

Public servants who routinely flout tender regulations by stipulating their preferred brands or vendors could soon be in for a serve from their financial masters, with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) planning a major "education" campaign to inform potential customers of IT procurement rules.

Having won a major victory from the U.S. government"s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the form of a memo to government IT buyers warning that stipulating brand names or vendors for generic IT requirements is simply not on -- and costs billions, AMD has vowed it will not let the matter rest until it gets its fair market share.

According to Bruce Shaw, AMD director of global enterprise marketing, the rather disciplinarian marketing technique will also be applied to Australia over coming months as part of a global campaign to alert government purchasers they are obliged to consider all viable options when it comes to selecting x86-based processor offerings.

Shaw told Computerworld Australia both government markets and AMD were "not getting a fair deal" because too many tenders either explicitly stipulated brands or cited proprietary performance specifications.

"Clearly there will be an education period. It"s a trickle-down effect," Shaw said adding AMD would now start looking at whether tenders conformed to government guidelines on an "agency by agency basis".

While the U.S. has recently sought to reiterate generic technology tendering requirements based on outcomes, Australia"s federal government has had similar guidance in place for some years under the GITC (government information technology and communications) purchasing guidelines.

Specifically, the Department of Finance requires agencies to select IT based on best value principles, which are in turn scrutinized by the Australian National Audit Office. Almost all states have similar guidelines for hardware.

To this degree, Shaw said, AMD was prepared to contest tender documents it felt were unfairly loaded in favor of a specific vendors in an effort to get a level playing field.

However, he cautioned the tactic would be more a last resort rather than a strategy to force open doors.

"Whether we contest [tenders], we will look at that case by case...but I would not rule out contesting [tenders]," Shaw said.

For its part, arch-rival Intel welcomed the US guidance on generic specifications, saying it was confident of winning business by virtue of its value and performance.

"We went through this five years it coming around again? We have no problem with [generic specifications] at all. We don"t write the contracts. I have seen very few contracts with our brand name written in them," Intel"s Australian manager, Philip Cronin said.

"The better part of this is that this means we get in front of the technologists. They line up the systems and they decide. It"s whoever is best on the day."