Georgia rebids telecom contract
- By Brian Robinson
- Jul 18, 2002
Georgia, which had just begun evaluating bids for its groundbreaking telecom
outsourcing project, has decided to rebid the 10-year contract following
reports of deepening troubles at WorldCom Inc., which headed one of the
two groups chosen as finalists.
The Converged Communications Outsourcing Project (CCOP) will put all
of the state's telecom services under one contract. It will fill the government's
needs for local, long-distance and wireless phone services as well as high-speed
online access, video, two-way radio, local-area networks and PC equipment
The first request for proposals (RFPs) also called for installation
of a new data center, which would have been bought and taken over by the
state at the signing of the final contract. The vendor would also have been
responsible for converting the Georgia Public Broadcasting's infrastructure
to allow for digital broadcasts and installing a highway camera system.
With the growing problems at WorldCom, which is accused of accounting
irregularities and is under increasing financial pressure, state officials
decided to rebid the contract because it was obvious there was no longer
a competitive process in place, said Joyce Goldberg, a spokesperson for
the Georgia Technology Authority (www.gagta.com).
At the same time, state officials decided to drop the requirements for
the data center, digital broadcast conversion and the highway camera system.
"They are not really a part of what we are trying to do with communications
overall, and they are not a part of the main mission of the telecom companies
who bid," she said. "But the [$18 million] bonds for the data center funding
have already been released and now we'll be able to get it done faster as
a separate item, which we need to do because our current data center is
The Federal Communications Commission also is calling for broadcasters
to convert to digital at a quicker pace, she said, and the state will have
more flexibility to do that under a separate contract.
The new RFP is to be published in early August, with the contract award
to be made in April. The original schedule called for a contract to be signed
in December. However, the original target of July 1, 2003, as the contract's
effective date has been retained.
"Because we pre-qualified companies and the concept has been known for
a year or more, we think the vendors have been following the process closely
enough and won't need that much more time to adjust," Goldberg said. "Plus,
we have become more savvy with the evaluations and have a pretty good idea
already of what the final contract should look like."
Bill Ritz, a spokesperson for EDS, a member of the other finalist group
bidding as Connect Georgia, said his company will be analyzing the latest
Georgia proposal but is "very confident" of the solution put forward under
the previous RFP.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.