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

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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