DISN Differences

In his April 1 FCW Op-Ed column, AT&T's Harry Carr argued that the current staggered approach of the Defense Information Systems Network procurements "artificially constrains the competition...and will cost taxpayers and warfighters an unnecessary $1.5 billion." Mr. Carr went on to advocate an "aggregated bid" DISN strategy, one that would allow competitors to submit a combined bid for all three buys. MCI disagrees.

Contrary to Mr. Carr's assertion, the current staggered DISN procurement structure takes advantage of the intensely competitive telecommunications marketplace to meet the warfighter's needs. In addition, MCI finds his $1.5 billion savings simply speculative. Where in his article does he substantiate this purported amount?

Some might view Mr. Carr's arguments as little more than a plain attempt to delay the DISN process for the benefit of AT&T.

DISA's current staggered bid approach for DISN will enable the government to modernize telecommunications for the warfighter while realizing a significant cost savings for the taxpayer. Most importantly, the current staggered approach will generate fierce competition that will yield the best possible prices on each individual contract.

Also, with the staggered approach, there is nothing to prevent one competitor from winning all three awards. A competitor would just be awarded each contract at three separate intervals. Isn't that, in essence, what AT&T wants? The only difference with the staggered approach is that competitors would have to compete head to head for the three separate awards.

After five years of exhaustive discussion, study and analysis of a wide variety of strategies, DISA concluded that the single, "winner take all" contract approach preferred by AT&T was not in the government's best interest. AT&T may not be happy with DISA's multicontract strategy for the DISN procurement, but this approach clearly meets the agency's goals and objectives.

Let's remember, however, who would benefit from AT&T's aggregated approach and the resulting delay in the procurement schedule: AT&T.

AT&T currently provides the Defense Commercial Telecommunications Network and will continue to do so on a sole-source basis until DISN is awarded and transitioned. Yielding to AT&T's demands for evaluation of aggregate offers would delay a DISN contract award until the end of 1996 or even well into 1997. Delays of this magnitude would make DISA's current complete transition date of June 1, 1997, impossible—potentially leading to yet another sole-source contract extension for DCTN.

With every passing month of delay of this competitive procurement, AT&T continues to reap substantial financial benefit at the expense of the warfighter, the government and the American taxpayer.

MCI sees AT&T's protest and writing campaign as a transparent stall tactic to delay the DISN award, putting off AT&T's inevitable loss of revenue. MCI urges the government to reject AT&T's heavy-handed lobbying efforts and to keep DISN on an aggressive, competitive track to meet scheduled award dates.

Let the competition finally begin.

Diana Gowen


Defense Department Programs

MCI Government Markets


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