The biggest ever Unix procurement is heading for further delays as DEC’s challenge to the right of the US Air Force Computer Acquisition Center to specify System V compatibility for the 20,000 system Standard Multi-user Small Computer Requirements Contract met an uncompromising response from aviators’ acquisition centre last week. DEC’s protest resulted in what its lawyers term a superficial response failing to answer the manufacturer’s complaint that the procurement specification for the contract is unlawful. Three weeks ago DEC sent a substantial document to AFCAC in which it complained over a requirement that systems be supplied with an operating system which functionally conforms to the AT&T System V Interface Definition. DEC claims that this is illegal and should be removed from the requirement because it specifies an operating system that is proprietary to one of its competitors. Last week AFCAC lawyers answered the protest in a succinct manner reiterating that the interface definition has become a de facto industry standard and that operating systems supplied must be adaptable to the IEEE P1003 portable operating system once it is adopted as a Federal Information Processing Standard. The Posix standard is currently incomplete and does not attempt to address many of the areas covered in the System V Interface Definition. DEC’s lawyers are getting ready to present the case before the General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals; this must be done within two weeks of the AFCAC response, but the final decision to go further had not yet been taken by DEC as we went to press. The Request for Proposals for the Air Force system came out in February even though a Request for Information was issued as long ago as December 1984 with another following it mid 1986. The reason for the delay is the size – it is estimated to be worth around $3,500m, and its complexity, and if DEC has its way it will be delayed even longer.