Sprint takes gripes public

Sprint escalated its criticism of the General Services Administration's recently released FTS 2001 solicitation with a letter last week to GSA administrator David Barram accusing the agency of riddling its solicitation with government-unique requirements.

Gary Forsee president and chief operating officer of Sprint's Long Distance Division said the request for proposals for the government's next-generation network asks for products and services beyond those commonly requested by private-sector telecommunications customers.

"Some of the RFP requirements are so unnecessarily onerous that potentially qualified bidders will be disinclined to participate in this procurement creating the potential for the government to pay higher prices " Forsee wrote in the letter.

Out Into the Open

Although officials from all three major long-distance carriers and representatives from other telecom companies have privately criticized the FTS 2001 solicitation Forsee's letter represents the first public reproach of GSA. GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service is now accepting written comments from vendors interested in responding to the RFP.

A Sprint spokesman said the company took the unusual step of writing to Barram instead of simply submitting comments to the FTS program office because the program is critical to the company. John Okay deputy commissioner of FTS said Barram forwarded the letter to FTS commissioner Bob Woods for his response.

"We will be taking a serious look at this " Okay said. "The RFP may need to be modified to be in line with commercial practices.

"We have asked vendors for comments and questions about the RFP " he added. "And we will take this letter into consideration along with all of the other comments and questions we receive."

An official from another long-distance carrier who asked not to be named said he had not seen the Forsee letter "but I would imagine it is the same kind of stuff we're telling GSA."

In the area of government-unique products Forsee's letter said the government overstepped common commercial practices used by customers by requiring vendors to extend their responsibility for service delivery to inside federal buildings and by requiring that calls be priced the same regardless of whether they originate or terminate at another vendor's network.

Forsee also criticized the RFP's prohibition of volume discounts.

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