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How the big boys go shopping (Dan Zerkle)
(original, smirk, original)

I wrote this in an Amiga group awhile back to explain how procurement
(buying) works in government and large institutions.  This lamb had
no idea....

I was encouraged to put it in rec.humor.funny, so here you go.

In article <> (Richard Gerber) writes:
>I recall there being some discussion of this a few months back,
>so, stolen from the news wire:
>Apple Closer to Gaining Big Federal Contract 03/15/91

> [deleted]

>The C3 protest contended that, when the Air Force again selected
>the Macintosh systems last summer (1990), the military had
>ignored the questions of multitasking, system connectivity, and

Sigh.  Some people just don't understand how government procurement of
computer systems works.  Here's a quick review:

1. Some big mucky-muck decides that his division is falling behind the
   division across the street, because they just got some XGP
   Whizbanger 400 frobnicators across the street, and there aren't any
   over here.  This is intolerable, because the mucky-muck gets teased
   about it every times he plays golf with the mucky-mucks from across the

2. The mucky-muck tells his toadie that they have to get some
   Whizbanger 400's to replace the Whizbanger 399's they already have.
   The toadie gets to work by asking a grunt to write a description of
   the exact technical capabilities of a Whizbanger 400.  Meanwhile,
   the toadie starts the procurement by asking the committee to
   allocate a mess of moolah for an upgrade.

3. The toadie sends out a notice to the corporate stiffs that the
   committee has allocated the moolah (whether they have or not), to
   procure a large amount of frobnicating machinery, with a vague
   description of the sort of frobnicating that will be going on.  There
   should be stiffs from at least three corporations:  Whiz, Inc. (the
   maker of the Whizbanger 400), one foreign corporation, and one USA
   corporation.  In a pinch, two stiffs will do, so long as one is
   from Whiz, Inc., and the other is a USA stiff.

4. The stiffs all come and try to sell their frobnicators to the
   toadie and a whole collection of grunts.  They describe their
   equipment and use overhead projectors and wear nice suits.

5. The toadie takes the technical description from step 2 and writes
   "requirements" across the top.  He then gives it to the collection,
   from step 4, telling them to pick the machine they saw that best
   matches these requirements.  They usually pick the Whizbanger 400.
   If they do not, the toadie fires them and gets another collection
   that can pick the right machine.

6. The toadie takes the decision of the grunts and gives it to a bunch
   of pencil pushers, who work out a cost estimate.

7. The toadie gives the estimate to the check-writers, who go out and
   buy all the Whizbangers they can with that much moolah.

8. The mucky-muck gets to play golf in peace.


Well, this is a little bit exaggerated, but it is close enough that a
lot of people would recognize it.  Government agencies were notorious
for writing their reqirements so that only a certain model of IBM
mainframe would satisfy them.  A certain department in my previous
University made certain that they bought Macintoshes, even though one
user in there managed to get a NeXT (by paying for it himself) and was
doing wonderful things with it before the Macs showed up, and even
though the primary purpose was to get things networked (yes, a NeXT can
network better than a Mac).  And the bit about competing divisions
wanting things just because someone else has them is sadly very


(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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