The US Air Force, as reported briefly (CI No 796) emerged victorious over DEC and Wang in their appeal against its specification of Unix System V compatibility for the $4,500m 20,000 system multi-user small systems acquisition. The General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals upheld the Air Force acquisition strategy and almost all of the details of the procurement specification. But DEC is also claiming success in stopping the bid proceeding as it stood – the board ruled that the Air Force should amend the request for purchase procurement specification to include more information on the testing procedures used to determine the minimal level of functional compliance and that it should eliminate bias from the use of the AT&T System V Verification Suite. The Air Force says that it can provide this information very quickly and anticipates directing interested parties to submit their bids by the end of November. DEC had objected to the use of the System V Interface Definition for the huge forces office automation contract, saying that it gave AT&T systems a proprietary advantage and that other vendors would have to pay AT&T royalties. DEC wants to see the IEEE Posix standard used, which is anyway due to become a Federal Information Processing Standard in future. It is widely expected to come out with a Posix interface for the proprietary VMS operating system with which it hopes to meet Federal requirements. DEC is disappointed that the board failed to give any guidelines for future procurements involving Unix as it had angled for a ruling that specified Posix – the Board judged this procurement in isolation. But there is still a possibility of a further appeal – in a civ-il court this time – if the objectors decide that the revised Air Force Request does not respond to the board of appeal’s directive in good faith.
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