Treasury reopening TCE bids

The Treasury Department is reopening private-sector bidding for its Treasury Communications Enterprise (TCE) contract for a departmentwide data, voice and video technology network.

“Treasury is proceeding with the TCE procurement process began last year,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Federal Computer Week today.

Only bidders who previously participated in the TCE request for proposals will be able to submit revised bids, added Brookly McLaughlin, the spokeswoman.

The agency's decision to proceed with TCE reverses a notification that Treasury officials sent earlier this year to the Government Accountability Office after GAO sustained in March a protest against Treasury’s decision to award the TCE contract to AT&T.

But, department officials instead have now “determined that [GSA] was unable to meet [Treasury’s] communications needs with any existing contract, and it has decided to continue with the TCE procurement,” McLaughlin said.

GAO’s investigation into the first procurement process found many flaws, including a secret memorandum of understanding among Treasury, the Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration. The memo pledged to include Treasury in planning activities for GSA’s Networx telecommunications procurement and bound Treasury to switch to Networx at the end of three years, should an analysis weighted in favor of Networx determine that the latter offers the best value.

That memo is now rescinded, a Treasury official familiar with the situation said. The department never decided to rule out proceeding with TCE, the official added. The only definitive decision was to cancel the AT&T winning bid and reassess, the official said.

Lou Addeo, president of AT&T Government Solutions, wrote in an e-mail message that he knows nothing of Treasury's TCE plans.

The decision to reopen the procurement is likely to cause ire in the House Government Reform Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.) has repeatedly questioned why Treasury is not using a GSA contract for telecom.

“It's unfortunate that they're proceeding with this poorly planned and executed acquisition,” said a congressional source familiar with the committee’s concerns. TCE has fundamental problems, meaning that “no matter which firm is finally selected, there will likely be another round of protests and even more delay,” the source added.

Treasury should examine the procurement in the context of governmentwide costs, the official said. “Going forward with TCE is going to cost the government and taxpayers a lot of money by undermining Networx,” the congressional source said.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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