DISA suspends DREN award

The Defense Information Systems Agency has put a hold on the contract award for the Defense Research and Engineering Network after at least two of the unsuccessful bidders filed protests.

DISA spokeswoman Betsy Flood said that the protests were filed within five days of the required debriefings with the companies. As a result, "The agency has suspended further performance of the contract," she said.

The move comes after two vendors competing for the 10-year, $450 million contract announced that they are protesting DISA's award to WorldCom Inc. for high-speed networking services to the Defense Department's scientific and research communities.

Sprint filed a protest with the General Accounting Office on April 12, a company spokesman confirmed.

Global Crossing Ltd. followed suit April 15, contesting the determination that the troubled company was "ineligible for award" because of its current financial situation.

DISA awarded the DREN contract to Global Crossing last year, then withdrew the offer after competing vendors protested.

Global Crossing's recent financial woes have intensified the focus on the project.

"We were originally awarded the contract based on the merits of our technologically superior solution, cost-effectiveness and our experience offering similar services to other large customers," John Legere, chief executive officer of Global Crossing, said in a statement. "It is our contention that we met all of the stated criteria for demonstrating financial responsibility, and we therefore should have been considered for the contract."

Sprint spokesman John Polivka said that the company "felt that there were some inconsistencies in the evaluating criteria." If those criteria were changed, the company could have had an opportunity to win the contract, he said.

The other unsuccessful bidders — AT&T and Qwest Communications International Inc. — have not yet announced their intensions regarding a protest.

DREN is designed to offer enhanced connectivity to all DOD research communities, providing wide-area network services to support DOD's High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

AT&T is the incumbent contractor. That deal was set to expire last year. DOD and AT&T negotiated a short-term contract to continue providing services until the new contract takes effect.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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