Financing options emerge as part of vendors’ Recovery Act tool kit

Top government contractors are chomping at the bit to help recipients cash-in on the stimulus package. Industry heavyweights like Accenture, EDS and IBM, are focusing efforts on multiple areas such as smart electricity grids, intelligent transportation, health IT, tax administration and state welfare initiatives.

Other companies like Microsoft, Deloitte and CSC also have offerings to help state and local agencies keep pace with the torrent of reporting requirements associated with Recovery Act funds. And just recently, Unisys launched a Reporting Solutions tool and Perot Systems released ARRA Readiness Assessment – a solution aimed at electronic health records.

In yet another way to catch part of the stimulus action, and in an effort to help Recovery Act recipients get projects off the ground, some IT companies are offering cheap finance options.

IBM and Perot Systems will finance projects aimed at IT infrastructure projects, particularly in health IT, broadband and “smart grid” technologies, to help hospitals and utilities put stimuls dollars to work.

IBM will will use its in-house Global Financing segment to bankroll up to $2 billion in Recovery Act IT initiatives in key stimulus areas, for credit-qualified clients. Some of the financing will be available through enhanced low rates and flexible payment options, deferred payment plans and special project financing that allows IBM clients to align their payment streams throughout the life of the project and anticipated benefits.

“In order to fast track our nation’s recovery, there needs to be an increased focus on public and private partnerships,” said John Callies, general manager of IBM Global Financing. Vice president of Global Financing Joyce Blackwell concurred indicating that IBM looks to their partners as an extended sales team. “The $2 billion is offered to any credit qualified customers whether they come through our partners or our sales team,” she said.

Three areas of the Recovery Act IBM hopes to capitalize on include health IT, US power grids and rual access to broadband.

IBM is working with Mayo Clinic to leverage an analytic data warehouse containing clinical data on more than six million patients in IBM’s DB2 database system. And according to the company, IBM is working with nearly fifty Smart Grid projects around the world. As for rural broadband access, IBM is working to develop Broadband over power lines (BPL) networks that would transmit voice and internet data over electric utility power lines.

Perot Systems, the Dallas-based provider of information technology services and business solutions, announced plans to offer financing options through Dell Financial Services last week. Whereas IBM was looking at projects in three main areas, Perot Systems and Dell will focus their efforts on clients looking to develop electronic health records and other health IT initiatives.

“The stimulus plan can have a far-reaching, positive impact on the quality of healthcare in our nation, and these financing options will help some clients bridge the gap between current investment needs and meeting the requirements necessary to take full advantage of the funds that become available in 2011,” said Chuck Lyles, president of Perot Systems’ healthcare group in a statement.

The financing options are similar to those offered by IBM except that they’ll be focused almost exclusively on credit-qualified hospitals, physician groups and other healthcare organizations that are seeking stimulus funding. Dell and Perot Systems recently announced a strategic alliance to provide fully-integrated IT solutions, combining their best-in-class technology and services solutions to help healthcare organizations improve patient care, reduce costs and achieve the standard of “meaningful use” for electronic health records established in the Recovery Act.

In an interview with Tim Quigley, Perot Systems executive vice president in charge of marketing and sales for their health group, Mr. Quigley said they haven’t decided to put a cap or a floor on how much they’ll finance. “It will be dependent on client demand. Our focus will be on multiple players who are eligible for funding – first hospitals and physician groups,” he said.  Mr. Quigley said most of their customers focused on stimulus funds are looking to set up private  HIEs (health information exchanges) that could communicate to different partners, but not necessarily be dependent on statewide or broad-area offerings run by someone else.

“If there are customers who come to us asking for funding, and they’re credit worthy, we’ll be able to work with them through the Dell partnership. It doesn’t matter if there’s five of five-hundered.”

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