Bypassing skeds leaves users in lurch

The Air Force's decision to prohibit purchases from the General Services Administration's B and C schedules while Desktop V is tied up in protest pulled the rug out from under Air Force users and prospective vendors.

Users, anxious to get new technology on their desktops, will have to wait. Vendors who planned to sell Desktop V-like packages while offerings from Hughes Data Systems and Zenith Data Systems remain shelved will have to find their fortunes elsewhere.

While we applaud the Air Force's efforts to preserve the economies of scale that make buys such as Desktop V possible, we remain concerned about the effects of this decision.

While the Air Force action preserves sales for Desktop V vendors, it also puts them in the precarious position of facing a potential deluge of orders when the protest is resolved.

The decision ignores the fact that the schedules exist for agencies to use when a contract isn't in place. Isn't that the case here?

Finally, curtailing schedule sales isn't fair to Air Force users. They had to wait long enough for the Desktop V contract to be awarded, and there's no telling how long it will take to resolve the protest.

At the very least, the fact that vendors can offer similar packages right now at prices more attractive than those available on Desktop V should make all of us sit up and take notice.

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