Petrillo states, “Multiple-Award Schedule contracts and governmentwide acquisition
contract orders, together with credit card purchases, have ballooned. Besides being
difficult to protest, these buys share this: There is scarce or no competition because
they have little visibility. Thus, the conundrum: Will uncertainty breed more protests, or
will invisible buys wither the process?”

Aren’t governmentwide acquisition contracts competitively awarded? To say that MAS
contracts and credit card orders are not competitive simply demonstrates an incredible
lapse in Petrillo’s thinking. The competition is simple, good ol’ American
competition of advertising and good prices. GCN contributes to the process with each
issue; its pages are filled with contract prices and contact points for making easy

I, for one, hope these new methods wither the protest process. As a participant in
several large contract deals in the past, I never witnessed a protest that benefited
anyone other than the protest lawyers. Neither the protester, the Environmental Protection
Agency nor the taxpayers saved a dime in the process, and legitimate, competitive awards
were thwarted by the protests.

Let me pose a question to you: How can a vendor that has a MAS contract claim that he
is “losing business without having a chance to compete?” The contract is
established to simplify purchases and save millions of dollars in processing costs, and
then it’s up to the vendor to advertise and sell within the competitive environment.
It’s inappropriate to expect every agency and office to buy from every vendor. That
doesn’t make good fiscal sense for the government. But a vendor that has quality
goods and services and competitive prices is surely going to make sales.

I understand Mr. Petrillo’s call for a clear understanding of the new contracting
landscape. I hope we can achieve one that is established, not by a court, but rather by
good management policy.

John Shirey
Computer specialist
Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle, N.C.

Regarding “Smart Ship inquiry a go” [GCN, Aug. 31, Page 1]: Some appear to be blaming Microsoft Windows NT for Smart Ship system
failures. Is Microsoft NT that bad? If so, then all NT installations should have the same
reported failure rate. I don’t believe they do. Therefore, what else could it be? Bad
programming? Doubt it.

So what is left to suspect or even blame?

Perhaps someone should look at the ship’s electrical environment. Recent studies
by the military are concluding that the majority of our computer and software problems are
in fact power quality problems. A paper published in the September 1998 Power Quality
Solutions/Alternative Energy Proceedings from a power quality conference in Las Vegas in
August quotes an Army study that found “60 percent of electronic equipment failures
are due to power quality.”

In an article in an earlier issue of Power Quality Assurance magazine, author Charlotte
Andres cites a 1992 study concluding that “90 percent of system problems were due to
poor grounding.”

At a more nautical level, a recent study by Cutler Hammer Engineering Services for the
Fleet Technical Support Center, Pacific, measured power line transients of several
thousand volts on a shipboard 450-volt AC power system. Also see under the
heading TVSS Information.

Without the proper environment, computer systems will not survive. System failures,
lockups and so on will be addressed as the problem, not merely the symptom.

Name withheld



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