UT Reviewing Computer Purchase

KNOXVILLE — Changes will be made in the way the University of Tennessee buys computers, UT’s chief information technology official said Friday.

Dr. Dwayne McCay, vice president for research and information technology, said a review of purchasing practices, recommended by a recent UT internal audit, is now underway. McCay also said a contract with Cricket Communications, which also was examined by UT auditors, is under review.

“Along with the purchasing department, the Office of Research and Information Technology currently is conducting a thorough review of the methods the university uses to procure computers,” McCay said.

“At the end of this process, we will have in place procedures that ensure preference is not given to any vendor in the purchase of computers.”

McCay said new policies should be in place by January 2002.

The audit found that while UT has contracts with several computer providers, preference in the purchase of equipment was given to Dell Computer Corp., a company with a large assembly and distribution presence in Tennessee. The audit report recommends that a competitive bid process would be preferable to the sole-source negotiation that was used with Dell.

In August 2000, UT signed a contract with Cricket that permitted the wireless communications company to install cellular phone equipment on UT property. In return, Cricket agreed to pay the university $5,000 monthly, with the funds designated for scholarships. In February 2002, the monthly amount increases to $15,000 monthly.

McCay said the Cricket contract is in the process of negotiation for termination and that all obligations to the university for utility costs and other services will be met.

If arrangements similar to Cricket’s are made with wireless providers in the future, the audit report recommends a request for proposals from several cellular companies should be sought. McCay said that it is very unlikely that any such arrangements will be considered in the future.