GSA issues modified phone service pacts

After weathering repeated delays the General Services Administration's Federal Telecommunications Service this month issued a solicitation for the government's next-generation long-distance telecommunications network and a draft solicitation for the first of a series of metropolitan-area phone service contracts.

GSA personnel and members of congressional oversight committees believe the FTS 2001 request for proposals and the draft solicitation for the Metropolitan Area Architecture (MAA) contracts will take advantage of the new deregulated telecommunications market by allowing long-distance and local-service providers to compete in each other's traditional markets. Both programs will run four years followed by four optional one-year periods.

GSA plans to award multiple FTS 2001 contracts - worth a total of $5 billion to $8 billion - by March 1998. The first MAA contracts serving the New York City Chicago and San Francisco areas are expected to be awarded by the end of the year. GSA has not estimated the potential value of the New York contract because of last-minute changes in the scope of the program.

The FTS 2001 RFP was scheduled for release last fall but was postponed when Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and other members of Congress expressed concerns about whether it would allow the highest degree of competition. At a hearing held by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee two days before the release of the solicitations FTS commissioner Bob Woods said the agency tailored the solicitations to better serve the needs of government users as well as the interests of the telecommunications industry.

"We're quite confident that the enhancements [to the solicitation] serve broad interests " Woods told the committee. "You're always going to get some [vendors] saying `I only agree with some of it.' I don't think any one vendor got the whole loaf."

One of the more controversial aspects of the program will allow vendors that win long-distance contracts to also offer local service to agencies if they first register with GSA and then wait a year after the MAA contracts are awarded. Vendors that win MAA contracts also will be allowed to offer long-distance service with the same stipulations. Some vendors notably Bell Atlantic argue this setup will allow the government to award business to vendors without performing a thorough evaluation of the services.

"There is nothing unevaluated about it " Woods said. "If we are buying service for 15 bucks a line and you come in with a proposal of $18 I can tell you how far that will go."

Telecom vendors said they were still reviewing the solicitations and declined to offer specific comments on it.

Frank Lally associate deputy assistant secretary for telecommunications at the Department of Veterans Affairs and chairman of the Interagency Management Council said the council endorsed the RFP and believes it is an improvement over previous versions. He said the IMC would form a "transition group" this month that will help assign agencies to each winning vendor's network based on agency budgets and telecommunications needs.

Because agencies are likely to remain with their current service providers AT&T Corp. - which holds about 80 percent of the current FTS 2000 traffic - stands best positioned to win most of the business under FTS 2001.


  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.