Qwest protests bridge contracts

Qwest Communications International Inc. filed a protest Friday with the

General Services Administration, claiming that bridge contracts awarded

to AT&T and Sprint were not contested fairly.

The bridge contracts enable

AT&T and Sprint to provide FTS 2000 telecommunications services until

all agencies make the transition to FTS 2001.

"Our action today is an attempt

to restore the principles that everyone agreed to and to bring competition

back into the process," Jim Payne, Qwest senior vice president of the Government

Systems Division, said in a statement.

GSA's Federal Technology Service awarded the bridge contracts to AT&T

and Sprint on Dec. 5, extending AT&T's contract until Dec. 6, 2001,

and Sprint's until June 6, 2001. The contracts are needed to continue existing

services at the 27 agencies that have not completed the transition to FTS

2001 contracts with WorldCom Inc. or Sprint. All have placed orders.

GSA declined to comment Friday.

Qwest's concerns include:

* GSA did not follow the applicable procurement laws and regulations

in the award of the bridge contracts, such as providing notice in the Commerce

Business Daily announcing the procurement and setting forth a summary of

the rationale for the sole-source awards.

* GSA failed to demonstrate that the prices negotiated in the bridge

contracts, which are about 20 percent higher than the FTS 2001 levels, are

"fair and reasonable."

* The awards of the bridge contracts on a sole-source basis cannot be

justified on the basis that services offered under the FTS 2000 contracts

are "available from only one responsible source."

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