Potential WITS bidders get extra comment time

The General Services Administration has extended the comment period on the draft
request for proposals for the Washington Interagency Telecommunications Systems 2001

GSA officials said they plan to issue the final RFP late this month.

Wayne Brady, planning director for GSA’s National Capital Region, said the agency
still plans to award the contract in December. The current WITS contract, awarded in 1989
to C&P Telephone Co., now Bell Atlantic Corp., expires in January.

Comments and questions on the May 8 draft RFP, originally due by May 29, now must reach
GSA by July 24.

The tentative date is July 31 for the release of the final RFP, Brady said.

In the meantime, GSA has invited potential bidders and anyone who submitted questions
and comments to come in for face-to-face discussions, he said.

The original WITS was primarily a voice services contract, although its GSA-owned
Synchronous Optical Network can handle data.

“We do offer some Sonet-based transmission service, but there is no access
component,” Brady said. By including data access in the follow-on contract, GSA plans
to expand WITS’ data load.

Because GSA owns the WITS infrastructure, federal users get the lowest line rate in the
Washington area, said Jim Glowacky, GSA program development manager for Bell Atlantic
Federal. As a private network with power backup and a self-healing Sonet ring, it also is
resilient in case of natural disaster, he said.

But GSA is open to outsourcing the network if bidders can prove the advantages,
Glowacky said.

GSA “wants to leverage what they have. They aren’t looking to buy new
equipment,” he said.

Brady said the government has made a significant equipment investment, spending about
$180 million. GSA wants to get that back and also is moving toward a services-only
environment, he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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