Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 2:15 PM

Fast Facts on Laptop Purchases

On Monday, April 13, Council approved the purchase of laptops for City staff related to our response to COVID-19. The purchase has raised some questions from the public. Here are the facts:
 
Why does the City need to buy laptops? Why can’t staff working from home just bring home their desktop computers?

First, any of our staff working from home that did have laptops before the pandemic are using those laptops in their home. Also, some staff working from home that do not need to connect to the organization’s secured network to do their work are in fact working from their own personal devices.

Staff now required to work remotely that did not have laptops previously and need the ability to connect to the organization’s secured networks were supplied with laptops.

Not all staff have the ability to connect their computer directly to their internet router; they need to be able to work over a secured Wi-Fi connection, which is easier to provide through laptop devices. This also allows those staff to be able to work anywhere in their home and to be able to take their devices with them to the office or other remote locations. Furthermore, in some cases staff may not have the space for a desktop computer.
 
How can this many laptops be purchased without a tender?

The City last did a tender for laptops in September 2019. The tender was awarded based on a unit price of $1,120 for each laptop. In mid-February we attempted to order from the supplier who won the tender, however these laptops had not shown up by early March. The supplier informed us that they could not access units due to COVID concerns as the machines were being manufactured in China.

By mid-March, it was clear that the City was about to enter an emergency situation and we activated the Business Continuity plan. With the need to close City buildings, the organization needed an immediate solution that would meet our specifications and timelines.

As a result, our Information Technology and Purchasing Teams were asked to immediately seek laptops, as per the organization’s requirement. The team started making calls; suppliers were advising they were seeing “on hand” quantities disappear while we were on the phone, and in fact one warehouse was closing due to COVID concerns within an hour of us calling. As a result, the City had no choice but look to other suppliers.

We followed all the requirements of the Public Procurement Act in making what was deemed an emergency purchase, given the circumstances.
 
What was purchased?

In fact, the City has actually ordered 107 laptops. Fifty-three of those purchased had to be approved by Council as the bill was in excess of $100,000; another 54 laptops were purchased locally from one supplier; the others are currently on order.

Here is exactly what was purchased:

  • March 15th –24 @ $2,495 (local supplier)
  • March 16th – 53 @ $1,892.50
  • March 17th – 30 @ $1,248.50 (local supplier)

With regards to the 53 laptops purchased from Brunnet on March 16, the cost included:

  • Laptop - Microsoft Surface Book 2 15ini7/16/256GPUCBSKU SC English US/Canada Hdwr Commercial 15 inch - $1892.50
  • Docking station - MS Surface Dock – USB 3.0, 4 x USB Ports - $198.05
  • 3 Year Warranty Surface Book - $175.00

 On the day the 53 were ordered, two other local suppliers were contacted. One could not supply the quantity and the other was more expensive.
 
What’s going to happen to all these laptops?

Over a typical year, the City is required to replace many devices that break or are no longer able to perform the new functions required. Once the pandemic is over and staff are no longer required to work from home, these devices will either be returned to our stock or used to replace outdated equipment.