Letters to the Editor

For the record

Several recent FCW articles and the latest DOD Buyers' Guide have reported information on GTSI's Portable-3 and PC-3 contracts that is incorrect.

Two articles ["Army Saves on Laptops," FCW, May 31, and "IDI gears up Portable-3," FCW, June 7] incorrectly stated that the Army was allowing up to 60 days for vendors to open up the Portable-3 contracts for ordering. Additionally, the June 7 article stated that Intelligent Decisions Inc. would be cutting that 60-day period in half.

For the record, the Portable-3 contract stipulates a 30-day contract start-up period, not 60 days. Thus, by starting the Portable-3 contract within 30 days of notice to proceed, Intelligent Decisions will not be cutting the start-up period in half but will be starting within the time stipulated in the contract.

We wish to emphasize that GTSI also will comply fully with the contract's terms and open Portable-3 for ordering within a 30-day start-up period after receiving notice to proceed.

Also, the June 14 DOD Buyers' Guide stated incorrect information for our PC-3 contract. Under "Services Provided," FCW listed "lifetime on-site warranty." GTSI is not providing a lifetime warranty on PC-3; we are providing a five-year warranty.

Additionally, GTSI's point of contact for several contracts has changed. Joe Bycina is the point of contact for the following SCP contracts: Army Licenses for Software Upgrades BPA, Enhanced Technology-1 BPA, PC-3 and Portable-2.

In the June 21 "Intercepts" column, the "PC-3 Grumblings" paragraph reported that Mark O'Donnell at Vanstar submitted a letter of concern against the PC-3 awards to GTSI and Intelligent Decisions. That also is incorrect; the letter of concern was submitted on Portable-3.

Because many of our customers read FCW and rely on these articles for contract information, we thank you for allowing us to correct the errors.

Carole Stoebe SmithCapture ManagerGTSI

***

Personal-use policy already in use

Bureaucratus: The name fits. He poo-poo's policies that he does not understand and that he doesn't realize are already in place in most major corporations and in some military locations. As for Bureaucratus' comments on the personal use of government equipment ["Personal-use policy a recipe for disaster," FCW, May 24], the newest Air Force instructions allow many of the same things that the CIO Council recommended.

There is no problem with monitoring Internet usage by employees, especially when most sites already have a proxy infrastructure that reports "tawdry" Internet usage. It already is prohibited and easily defined. If you wouldn't visit the site with your boss looking over your shoulder, then it is not appropriate.

While he frets over how to "prove" manpower waste, the rest of the real world knows that hanging out at the fax machine for 45 minutes would constitute inappropriate behavior. Maybe a dose of common sense would help free Bureaucratus from his dank cavern and bring him into the daylight with the rest of us.

Bill YohmanSan Angelo, Texas

***

NT can't run with Unix

I'll cut to the chase. We engineering types do not consider any operating system by Microsoft Corp. to be capable of giving any Unix system a "run for its money" ["Graphics Powerhouses," FCW, April 19].

There is no evidence to suggest an NT-powered system can perform at the level of any Unix system, assuming comparable hardware. All Windows operating systems are inherently single-user systems and thus tend to be markedly unstable when applied to multiple tasks demanding intensive CPU utilization.

However, sheer performance isn't the only criterion. A critical factor to consider when utilizing a computer to perform engineering and scientific tasks is system reliability. It is in this area where NT systems are grossly inadequate. Almost any Unix user can tell of uptimes that extend for weeks, months and in some cases years. Conversely, virtually all NT users can tell of frequent crashes (the infamous BSOD—"Blue Screen of Death"), lost work and frustration.

Aside from operating system considerations, the "workstations" you reviewed are single-processor Pentium III units. A single-processor system based on Intel Corp. architecture is inadequate as a workstation by today's standards and really is nothing more than a PC with some extra memory and more powerful graphics. Also, our experience here at BCS Technology Ltd. shows that the P-III's performance in no way justifies its cost. Calling the tested units "workstations" is like referring to a Piper Commanche aircraft as a cargo plane.

Given the widespread knowledge of Windows NT's inadequacy, instability and insecurity, I believe it is irresponsible for any journalist to give that flawed product any kind of endorsement.

Bill BrierBCS Technology Ltd.

***

SPS management exhibits paranoia

As a federal (Navy) information technology worker, I was wondering when the Standard Procurement System would begin hitting the news. Your last article seemed to hit the nail on the head when it talked about all the dead bodies "on the road to SPS nirvana" ["Navy praises new SPS, but critics remain," FCW, June 14]. It seems that there has been an excessive level of paranoia exhibited by the higher levels of management associated with this project. I have been working for greater than 25 years in the IT area, and I have never seen a project that has been so hyped with such little regard to its technical and functional deficiencies.

It seems that the idea of a "standard procurement system" was an ill-conceived idea because there are not a lot of "standard" business practices in the Defense Department. What has happened is there were a lot of deficiencies discovered when the Navy attempted to implement this system. Of course, there is no commercial off-the-shelf procurement system that possibly could handle all of the unique federal/DOD procurement regulations.

To maintain current business systems, every implementation of SPS has been required to develop unique interface applications to maintain the current interfaces that were included in the legacy systems that SPS has replaced. Are these costs being included in the total SPS cost?

Aside from these functional issues, there appear to be real performance problems with this system.

Name withheld by request

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