You know you're doing something right when computers stop breaking down regularly. Mike Jacobs, technology manager for Lucas County, Ohio, can attest to that. After a year with the Information Services department (LCIS), Jacobs shifted gears by standardizing the county's desktops on Gateway. A drop in computer breakdowns became very evident.

When Jacobs came aboard four years ago, Lucas County had a mixed bag of installed systems -- some old, some new -- brand names and generic.

A dearth of reliable desktops and dependable vendor service made application deployments painful for IT staff and dragged out repair turnaround times, he said.

Technical support staff were expected to know how to support applications on a variety of hardware and Windows operating systems, and Jacobs had to manage multiple vendors simultaneously. Three years ago, however, Jacobs added Gateway e-Series desktops to his inventory and was impressed by the company's devoted sales reps, rapid part replacements and affordable price.

Building a Program

Jacobs' private-sector experience assisted with the development of a PC program based on standards and specific services. With support from the Lucas County Office of Management and Budget, 46 county departments started to switch their desktops to Gateway and began purchasing through the OMB central technology fund.

There was some initial minor resistance to the change of central purchasing. As the program matured and computer problems were reduced, it was noticed employees were more productive. Bulk purchasing also allowed lower pricing.

To date, Lucas County has purchased primarily three different Gateway PC models. This year, the county is purchasing the Gatewaye-4500 with Intel