FTS 2001 protest dismissed

The General Accounting Office last week dismissed a protest by AT&T in which the company called for the General Services Administration to recompete the governmentwide FTS 2001 long-distance telecommunications contract.

According to the decision by General Counsel Anthony Gamboa, GAO dismissed the protest on the grounds that it is not within the agency's jurisdiction and that AT&T did not file the protest in the time frame specified in regulations.

In the protest, AT&T claimed that GSA's Federal Technology Service had made so many changes to FTS 2001 since awarding it to Sprint and WorldCom Inc. two years ago that the original requirements of the contract had been invalidated.

"GSA is pleased by the dismissal of the protest by the General Accounting Office," agency spokesman Bill Bearden said in a statement. "The GAO decision affirms the agency's position and enables GSA to continue to administer the FTS 2001 contracts for the benefit of federal agencies without disruptive litigation."

Earlier this month, GSA announced plans to release for comment on June 28 its ideas on whether the FTS 2001 contract should be opened to other companies for additional competition. GSA had planned to do so after Sprint and WorldCom finished moving the first set of agencies to the new contract. The companies completed that work this month.

AT&T did not return calls by Wednesday night.

The company first filed the protest with GSA but withdrew it and refiled with GAO on May 25 after a report from GSA stated the issue did not fall under GSA's jurisdiction.

But GAO's jurisdiction in bid protests only covers ensuring "that the statutory requirements for full and open competition are met," not whether a contract has changed, Gamboa wrote.

"Our review...shows that AT&T has not presented allegations or evidence sufficient to bring its protest within our narrow jurisdiction in this area," he wrote.

Records from AT&T show that the company knew of the information it used in the protest more than 10 days before filing it with GSA on April 27. Bid protest regulations provide 10 calendar days for a protest to be filed.

GAO found that AT&T did not meet that requirement because the company waited until the day after an April 26 hearing where GAO released a report stating that the challenges in transitioning agencies to the new contract had jeopardized the program's goals. AT&T's protest used information from that report, but a draft had been released earlier and records show the company knew the information it used in the protest well before the April 27 filing, Gamboa wrote.

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