Agencies throughout Louisiana state government use Dell desktop computers almost exclusively so it must be assumed that competitive bids were taken on the equipment and that the state paid the most economical price.
After all, there are literally dozens of state agencies and many more offices within those agencies. Estimates vary as to the actual number of active employees on the state payroll at any given time but it is generally agreed there around 50,000-or more.
And virtually all those employees have a desktop computer—a Dell—assigned to them.
And, yes, of course competitive bids are taken. It’s the law.
Fewer, but still a substantial number of state employees have the need for laptop computers. Those include state police officers and employees who perform much of their work in the field.
Those computers, for the most part, also are Dells.
So one would surmise that when an agency takes quotes on one or two Dell laptops, Dell would give the state the best possible price, given the thousands of computers it has already sold to the state.
One might surmise, but one might be wrong.
First of all, if the purchase price is below a certain amount, informal quotes from vendors may suffice in lieu of going through the more lengthy and involved bid process. That is certainly understandable.
Still, it would be reasonable to expect to attract the most favorable quotes.
One state agency recently asked for quotes for two Dell Latitude E6420 laptops. The quotes from Dell were quite surprising.
The price was $1,448.71 each for a total of $2,897.42. By the time two Kensington Microsaver laptop locks (security cable locks) were added in at $37.29 each ($74.78 for the two), the total cost for the two units came to $2,972.20.
Again, to the non-skeptic, it would seem reasonable to assume that with the state’s volume buying from Dell, the company would have discounted the laptops in order to cut the agency the best deal possible. Think again.
A quick online check of Dell prices found the Dell Latitude E6420 listed for $1,042.51 each—$406.20 less than Dell’s quote for the state agency for the same model. Some, obviously stripped-down models of the same laptop, were going for as low as $670 and $750.
It would be a daunting task to learn how many times this scenario is repeated throughout state government. We do know, however, that this agency followed procedure in requesting quotes and if no one made a better offer it will probably pay the higher price.
Perhaps this is an example of trickle-up economics because it most certainly isn’t trickle-down.
It’s your money.