AT&T balks at GSAs plan for govt. telecom
If post-FTS 2000 acquisition strategy isn't overhauled, the
governmentwide FTS program should be dumped and agencies turned loose to find services on
their own, FTS 2000 contractor AT&T Corp. is telling the government.
Unless the General Services Administration fundamentally changes the acquisition
strategy, "the PF2K plan is in a failure mode [that]...will also likely take the
existing FTS 2000 program down with it," AT&T predicted in a statement prepared
for a hearing on the program.
The company will testify on the draft post-FTS 2000 solicitation at the hearing before
the Interagency Management Council of senior IRM officials. The three-day hearing begins
Oct. 31 in Washington.
AT&T is unlikely to get a sympathetic response from the council, which itself
designed the PF2K acquisition strategy for GSA.
Although GSA portrays its relationship with AT&T and the other FTS 2000 contractor,
Sprint Corp., as a partnership, the alliance seems to have fallen apart with the August
release of the draft PF2K solicitation [GCN, Aug. 28, Page 1].
The solicitation calls for two contracts for a comprehensive set of services--a plan
that mirrors the current FTS 2000 contracts held by AT&T and Sprint. These
comprehensive awards will be the plums of the procurement, but there will be many smaller
contracts as well.
AT&T objects to GSA's plan to award at least one contract each in individual
categories such as dedicated transmission, circuit-switched and wireless services. A
bidder that wins one of the comprehensive contracts cannot compete for the other
Agencies will be free to pick and choose the services they want from all the contracts.
AT&T charged that this amounts to establishing a GSA schedule program "where
meaningful business relationships are neither sought nor created, but instead are replaced
by a government-unique system of continual auction."
GSA wants to have the PF2K contracts in place by early 1997, a timetable that would
allow traffic to be moved off the existing FTS 2000 network by the time the AT&T and
Sprint contracts expire in 1998. AT&T said the switch should begin only after the
current contracts have run their course.
It also objected to GSA's plans for a technical and management support contractor to
help agencies procure their communications services. That contractor will wind up costing
the government extra money for assistance that properly should come from the network
providers, AT&T argued.
GSA and its PF2K suppliers could form a more stable relationship if the program
consisted of a series of requirements contracts, AT&T said. If GSA is unwilling to do
this, an adequate substitute would be to establish a mandatory-use policy--like the one
governing FTS 2000--or enter into some other "truly meaningful" commitments.
"If the government chooses not to reassess and modify the PF2K strategy, then the
taxpayer and end-user agencies would be best served by simply abandoning the effort and
turning telecommunications back to the user agencies" to provide for their own needs,
A Sprint spokeswoman said the company was not prepared to release its comments.
Another potential PF2K bidder, MCI Telecommunications Corp., took issue with some of
the draft solicitation's specifics on billing and interoperability. But MCI had little to
say about the overall acquisition strategy.
"MCI continues to endorse maximizing competition" to ensure that the
government obtains the best prices for global telecommunications services, said Jerry
Edgerton, head of MCI Government Systems.