Justice cancels network award

The General Services Administration has rescinded the contested award for the Justice Unified Telecommunications Network (JUTNet) and will put it out for bid again, according to a letter from GSA to vendors.

GSA earlier this year selected AT&T to be the "conditional primary contractor" on the project. The agency used its FTS 2001 telecommunications contract for the project, on behalf of the Justice Department, said Mary Alice Johnson, a GSA spokeswoman.

Sprint officials protested the selection, however, and now the Federal Technology Service and Justice officials have decided together to rescind the decision and repeat the process.

The primary contractor on the JUTNet project will be responsible for completing some testing and selecting a secondary contractor, all subject to the approval of Justice officials, Johnson said.

GSA contracting officer Robert Abood sent letters to the losing bidders to inform them that the agency had withdrawn its selection. Agency officials will issue a revised statement of work soon, Johnson said. The modifications pertain only to pricing, she added.

Justice officials intend for JUTNet to be a voice, video and data network that two vendors will build. By tapping two companies to design and build the network, officials hope to create redundancies to ensure that communications continue to flow even if part of the network is knocked out.

Companies will have until May 26 to submit modified proposals, and Johnson said FTS officials expect to choose a conditional primary contractor by late June. AT&T is still eligible, as are all other FTS 2001 contractors, she said.

AT&T officials declined to comment. Justice officials were not immediately available for comment.

Although the move is a setback, consultant Warren Suss said that it should not be a severe one.

"It will delay things, but my guess is they will be able to move relatively quickly," said Suss, president of Suss Consulting. "It's easier for the agency to make a change at this stage of the game than to proceed with the implementation and then have a change."

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