AT&T disputes FTS award

The General Services Administration is reviewing a protest filed by AT&T that asks the agency to terminate its FTS 2001 telecommunications contracts with Sprint and WorldCom Inc. and reopen competition.

AT&T is protesting GSA's decision to relax FTS 2001 specifications during the transition from FTS 2000. The transition deadline has been delayed many times.

AT&T contends that because GSA relaxed contract requirements, the nature and purpose of the FTS 2001 contracts were materially changed and the awards are invalid. GSA has received the protest, filed April 27, and is reviewing it, said Bill Bearden, a GSA spokesman.

The protest responds to information revealed in a General Accounting Office report released April 26 on the transition.

In the report, GSA said it relaxed contract requirements, including the length of transition, quality of services and collection of data for a transition information database. Relaxing those requirements did not hinder competition or service, said Sandra Bates, commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service, in testimony April 26 to the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee.

GSA's evaluation of FTS 2001 proposals was based on vendors' ability to meet the requirements, AT&T said in its protest. Because GSA relaxed them, FTS 2001 has suffered higher costs to taxpayers, staffing shortages and a lack of transition data, AT&T said.

Although John Doherty, vice president of AT&T Government Markets, criticized GSA in his testimony for relaxing many contract requirements, he also said "GSA should not be forcing vendors to meet administratively burdensome FTS 2001 terms and conditions."

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