DISA OKs participation in GSA telecommunications solicitation

The Defense Department gave the General Services Administration the green light to list all of DOD's Washington, D.C., area locations as potential users of the Washington Interagency Telecommunications Service 2001 in the draft solicitation for the network issued late last week.

Although the extent to which Defense personnel will use WITS 2001 remains unclear, the move signals a new willingness by DOD to share telecom assets with civilian agencies. Currently, DOD operates its own Washington-area network, known as Tempo, while GSA provides similar services to civilian agencies through the existing WITS contract. A cooperative procurement, having a much larger potential user base, may provide greater volume discounts, agency officials said.

Richard Colver, the telecommunications manager for command, control, communications and intelligence systems at DOD, said last week that he had not yet seen GSA's draft request for proposals but said it would include a "caveat that some portion of DOD requirements will be satisfied by WITS 2001.

"That portion has not been determined yet," Colver added.

Wayne Brady, GSA's WITS 2001 project manager, said his office "received approval" from the Defense Information Systems Agency May 6 to include all DOD Washington-area locations as potential users of the WITS 2001 contract.

John Okay, the senior vice president for telecommunications and special studies at Federal Sources Inc. and the former deputy commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service, noted that DOD still will proceed with a procurement for its own metropolitan-area network in Washington "for reasons of security and control." But he added that some Defense users might still opt to use the GSA contract.

"It will depend on the relative price," Okay said. "If the [DOD] network prices include greater security requirements, it will cost more, so WITS 2001 may be a good deal for DOD customers who don't have those requirements."

Brady said DOD personnel are located in about 500 locations within the Washington metropolitan area, but he said he could not guess how many of them would opt to use WITS 2001. "[Tempo] doesn't expire for another two years, and I think [potential users] will play their cards tight until they see what this contract yields," he said.

Paulette Ward, GSA's contracting officer on the project, said the agency is asking vendors and users to submit comments on the draft by May 29. She said a final RFP most likely would follow in June. Brady said he hopes to award a contract late this year.

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