Qwest eyes next move in FTS protest

Qwest Communications International Inc. may ask a higher government authority to review a General Services Administration decision to deny the company's protest of last-minute contract extensions with Sprint and AT&T for FTS 2000 telecommunications services.

The March 12 ruling said Qwest's contention — that GSA's award of bridge contracts to AT&T and Sprint violated government procurement policies requiring competition — is "simply incorrect."

"The agency established that there was an "unusual and compelling urgency' to conduct the procurement as it did," wrote Donald Suda, a GSA protest official. Any other action would have caused further delays and increased costs, he said.

Jim Payne, senior vice president of Qwest Government Systems Division, said the protest did not encourage discussion of how to increase competition on GSA's contracts, as he had hoped. Qwest may appeal to the General Accounting Office or the Federal Court of Claims, he said, but it must be done within 10 days. GSA did not comment. GSA extended its FTS 2000 telecommunications contracts with AT&T and Sprint after 27 agencies failed to complete the transition from FTS 2000 to FTS 2001 by the Dec. 6, 2000, deadli

Qwest protested to GSA on Dec. 15, claiming that the contracts violated the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 and the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, "is disappointed that the Qwest protest was not heard on its merits and was instead decided on a technicality," said David Marin, Davis' spokesman.

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