Chair Force Engineer

Monday, February 05, 2007


When members of the US Air Force want to buy computers for business use, they're not allowed to buy them directly from the vendor. In fact, they're not even allowed to buy them from the GSA schedule. Instead, Air Force personnel are forced to buy through AFway, which is probably the worst way of buying computers that has ever been conceived.

Here's how AFway works:
1) The person who holds your unit's Government Purchase Card gets permission to access the AFway website.
2) The GPC holder will navigate through a series of clunky and decidedly un-friendly menus to input the specs you want for your computer.
3) The AFway website spells out a list of computers that match your description; however, none of them are from the vendors you trust, and they all are more expensive than what you'd pay if you just bought the damned computer directly from the vendor.
4) Your order takes several days to be approved by six different people.
5) A month or two later, your new computer arrives.

Sounds really stupid, time-consuming, and wasteful, right? That's because it is! Of course, I'm certain that some dipshit probably got a big fat promotion for dreaming up this nightmarish service.

The Air Force would be best served if they disposed of the overhead associated with the AFway website, allowed their airmen to pick the computers THEY want from the vendors THEY choose, and handled the approval at the wing level. Granted, GPC purchases have to be competitively sourced, but if there's no selection criteria there can be no cries that the competition was a farce. Trusting "the little guy" to do the right thing--it's a simple idea that "Caesar" will never understand.