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From:  Richard L. Mann, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
Larry Conrad, Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO

To:     University Business Managers

Date:  September 16, 2010

In these difficult economic times, the urgent need to reduce costs and avoid duplication of efforts has prompted our UNC institutions to focus on improving existing collaborations and to seek new cooperative mechanisms to achieve even greater efficiencies.  In July 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 202 with budget provision 6.11.(a).

In response to this state law and to the efforts of the UNC institutions, UNC General Administration (UNC-GA) has created a new initiative called the UNC Combined Pricing Initiative (CPI) for personal computer (desktop and laptop) purchasing.  The CPI has three overriding goals – 1) to respond to Senate Bill 202; 2) to leverage the aggregate purchasing power of the UNC system to obtain the best possible prices for IT infrastructure purchases; and 3) to provide the same reduced prices for all UNC institutions regardless of size or location.

Carolina units need to begin purchasing through the CPI program effective October 1, 2010.

For UNC institutions, the CPI offers several advantages.

  • The CPI provides the flexibility needed by UNC’s diverse institutions.UNC has a wide disparity in the size and complexity of its institutions and the “one-size-fits-all” approach to the purchase and support of PC hardware should not be applied by the UNC System Schools. For example, the procurement and support process employed by UNC-Chapel Hill should be markedly different than the process employed by UNC-Asheville.  Some of the variables in how each institution would choose to procure and service PC hardware include: length of warranty, insurance (theft and damage), pre-loaded images, spare parts inventory, loaner machines, etc. In our example, UNC-Chapel Hill may require a minimum warranty period of one year, as it can afford to employ IT staff to service the PC hardware. By contrast, a smaller school such as UNC-Asheville might choose to purchase the maximum warranty period, as it will always be reliant upon the vendor to service damaged and malfunctioning equipment.
  • The CPI provides all UNC institutions the same bulk purchasing benefits. To meet the needs of the large as well as the small UNC institutions, the CPI procurement process is designed to meet the primary objective of providing an identical base purchase price for all institutions. In addition, the process will provide a list of optional services that each institution may obtain at an additional cost.  Hence, each campus will determine its own Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for PC hardware and choose the preferred vendor that offers the most effective and efficient initial price combined with the four-year cost of service and support.

Additional UNC-GA CPI information:

  • For all purchases with state appropriated funds, UNC institutions must procure MS/Window compliant PCs only from the approved “Preferred Vendors” (Lenovo, Dell, and Hewlett Packard ).
  • The Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI) at UNC-Chapel Hill is included in the CPI and the purchasing process for CCI machines remains the same. CCI continues to provide best value pricing to UNC-Chapel Hill and you are encouraged to use this program for your computer needs.
  • Apple products are not a part of the CPI program at this time and may be purchased outside of CPI.
  • PC hardware must be purchased from the inventory of standard hardware configurations except when non-standard hardware configurations are required for special research, teaching, or administrative needs.

The campus may allow exceptions for up to 20% of the total state appropriated funds expended on PC hardware within a given fiscal year (the allowable maximum of 20% will be reduced in future years).

To procure non-standard hardware with state funds, a special exception must be requested from Purchasing Services. The request for exception must be accompanied by a letter of justification for business need.

  • Energy-efficiency requirements are included in the standard hardware configurations, which will benefit the sustainability and energy conservation efforts of all UNC institutions.
  • Standard hardware configurations, pricing and additional information can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Dale Poole at or

Note:  This memo was also distributed to Deans, Directors and Department Chairs.

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