House panel seeks 30-day delay in Post-FTS 2000 RFP

Rep. Dan Burton (RInd.) chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee last week asked the General Services Administration to postpone its solicitation for PostFTS 2000 contracts for 30 days and form a task force to iron out differences between sectors of the telecommunications i

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee last week asked the General Services Administration to postpone its solicitation for Post-FTS 2000 contracts for 30 days and form a task force to iron out differences between sectors of the telecommunications industry concerning the agency's acquisition strategy.

At a hearing last week Burton asked Bob Woods commissioner of GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service to help put together and serve on a task force of representatives from local-service and long-distance telecom providers and members of House and Senate oversight committees. The group would work to mitigate the differences between the vendors and deliver a compromise to the committee by mid-April.

"I believe it is important to get the interested parties back to the bargaining table " Burton said at the hearing. "I am asking Bob Woods to grant a 30-day extension and then submit the final [acquisition] strategy to the committee."

Burton said he would not be part of the task force but asked Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) chairman of his committee's Government Management Information and Technology Subcommittee to work with Woods and industry representatives on the strategy. He said a representative from the Senate - possibly Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee - also would be invited.

After the hearing Woods said he thought Burton's request was "a good idea " adding that he intended to meet with committee staff members to determine who would serve on the task force and how frequently it would meet. A committee staff member said a meeting to discuss these questions was scheduled for this week.

Before Burton's request the committee heard testimony from officials from AT&T and MCI that endorsed GSA's revision of the acquisition strategy.

But a panel of three representatives from local-service companies vehemently criticized the revision as anti-competitive.

Sprint also criticized the strategy asserting that it allowed regional Bell operating companies to offer long-distance service before it was legally permissible.

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