Air Force moves toward Cisco

Saying that the traditional competitive approach to buying network technology has compromised its combat capabilities, the Air Force plans to direct all bases to use products from Cisco Systems Inc.

The Air Force announced its intent in a July 31 Commerce Business Daily announcement. Although 95 percent of Air Force bases have installed Cisco products over the past decade, the lack of uniformity has made it difficult to build and support the Combat Information Transport System, a servicewide network.

Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc., said the move "may be the first step in a sole-source justification."

Mather agreed that standardization of IT is a good thing, but "there are ways to standardize, and the most effective way is to conduct a competition. It's hard to get good prices when you announce the standard before you've negotiated."

Comments will be part of the justification package sent to Air Force leaders before any decision is made. The one-vendor approach could take effect this month.

Officials at the Air Force, Pentagon, Electronic Systems Center, Standard Systems Group and Cisco were unavailable for comment.

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