FTS signs $2.6b in telecom pacts

FTS this month awarded $2.6 billion worth of Wire and Cable Services (WACS) contracts
and got ready to prequalify bidders for two dozen Metropolitan Area Acquisitions (MAAs) of
local telephone service.

The three WACS contracts will set up comprehensive, one-stop outlets at which agencies
can procure design, engineering, installation and removal of telecommunications systems.

An FTS contracting official predicts that the $2.6 billion estimate will fall far short
of the real value.

There is no annual ceiling on buys from the contracts.

Five-year WACS contracts went to Engineering and Professional Services Inc. of Tinton
Falls, N.J.; GTE Government Systems Corp. of Needham, Mass.; and Government
Telecommunications Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

Last month, FTS also released the MAA Request for Qualification Statements, which the
service will use to evaluate the technical expertise of bidders on more than two dozen MAA
contracts. Prequalification will be ongoing, but companies must get their statements in by
Jan. 15 to qualify for the first round of buys.

FTS expects to release the requests for proposals for local telecommunications services
in New York, Chicago and San Francisco by spring and to make the awards by mid-1998.

The MAAs for the first time will introduce competition into federal sites' local
telephone services.

FTS officials said they want this to cut costs as much as the nationwide FTS 2000
program slashed long-distance prices. Up to six contracts will be awarded for each of the
largest metropolitan areas.

Prequalified bidders must supply three mandatory services: switched voice,
circuit-switched data and dedicated transmission. Companies that establish the technical
ability to deliver these basic services can avoid the expense of qualifying for each

"There are potentially significant savings for the government and the
vendor," FTS contracting officer Robert Sudhoff said.

But putting most of the qualification work at the front end will give FTS employees a
heavier workload at first. "It's going to be a gigantic amount of work," Sudhoff
said. "We don't expect there to be that much savings up front. As we go on through
the next two dozen acquisitions, the savings will be great."

The MAAs and the WACS contracts will all be nonmandatory. An FTS contracting officer
said the agency has turned away from mandatory buys such as FTS 2000, counting instead on
competitive pricing and services to generate business.

He said WACS has realistic prices and some bargains, but not lowball prices that would
make the work unattractive to vendors. The greatest benefit to agencies will be the
one-stop shopping, he said.

WACS covers provisioning of copper, fiber-optic and multifunctional inside and outside
wiring and cable systems. It also covers hardware and software for network distribution
and management. Site survey and engineering services round out the offerings.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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