GAO rejects AT&T protest

The General Accounting Office denied a protest against the multibillion-dollar Defense Information Systems Network filed by AT&T late last year.

AT&T filed the protest to head off the multiple-procurement strategy devised by the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISN will replace the Defense Commercial Telecommunications Network contract, which was awarded to AT&T in 1982 and which, through extensions, still carries the bulk of Defense Department domestic traffic.

DISA said the ruling on the AT&T protest keeps its DISN acquisition strategy "on track.... Now that this issue has been resolved, we look forward to a keen level of competition from all vendors throughout industry and completing the award of currently pending contracts."

Harry Carr, who until early this year managed the Defense Network Division of AT&T and who is still involved in the DISN procurement, said, "We are obviously disappointed by the decision." But he said, "While GAO did not say the strategy was unlawful, it also did not say it was in the best interest of DOD or the taxpayers."

In the past, AT&T has indicated it would pursue its campaign against DISA's DISN strategy in the courts. Carr declined to say whether the company plans to take its case to the courts.

With the protest out of the way, industry executives expect DISA to award the first DISN contract, for integration services, later this month.

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