GAO punts DREN protests

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The General Accounting Office dismissed a pair of protests contesting the award of the Defense Information Systems Agency's $450 million Defense Research Engineering Network contract to WorldCom Inc.

The report, submitted by GAO general counsel Anthony Gamboa, acknowledged that DISA "relied on grossly inaccurate financial information in making a determination that WorldCom was a responsible contractor." But the protests and request for reconsideration from Sprint and Global Crossing Ltd. were dismissed because government officials did not act in "bad faith."

DISA officials had no knowledge of the inaccuracies in WorldCom's financial statements until after the award; therefore, "the protests became a matter of contract administration, [which is] beyond our bid protest authority, rather than a protest of the agency's award decision," Gamboa wrote.

The GAO report recognizes that WorldCom's "material misrepresentation could provide a basis for disqualification of a proposal and cancellation of the contract award based upon the proposal." However, the report also notes that the allegations of material misrepresentation in this case do not come from WorldCom's proposal, "but rather arise from information submitted by WorldCom during the pre-award survey."

A DISA spokeswoman declined to comment on GAO's findings, saying only that "the best interests of the government are served by MCI/WorldCom's continued performance."

Officials from both Sprint and Global Crossing said they were disappointed by the decision and were reviewing their options.

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