AT&T files FTS 2001 complaint with GAO

AT&T files FTS 2001 complaint with GAO

BY WILLIAM JACKSON | GCN STAFF

AT&T Corp. has moved its protest of the multibillion-dollar FTS 2001 program to the General Accounting Office.

The company in April protested to the General Services Administration, charging that GSA's Federal Technology Service had materially changed program requirements and demanding that competition be reopened.

A win could give AT&T another shot at the long-haul telecommunications buy it lost almost three years ago to Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc. AT&T spokesman Wayne Jackson said the new complaint, filed May 25, is essentially the same as the first one.

'It's a more formal hearing,' Jackson said of GAO's process. 'It allows us to get more information into the system.'

The new information is confidential under a protective order, GAO attorney Tonya Calhoun said, so that proprietary and source selection information cannot be disclosed publicly. 'The protest process can only work because of the protective order,' Calhoun said. 'Generally, everything is covered by the order,' including a preliminary GAO review set for completion by June 28.
GAO's decision is due by Sept. 4.

AT&T, along with Sprint, supplied the government with long-distance services for the FTS 2000 program. Agency delays in moving to FTS 2001 required extensions to the original contracts, and AT&T received a one-time, $8 million payment to maintain government-specific services with a shrinking customer base.

GSA has said the transition should be completed by the end of this month.

Local leader

AT&T was unsuccessful at bidding on FTS 2001, but it holds GSA contracts for local telephone service in Chicago, New York and San Francisco under the Metropolitan Area Acquisition program. The carrier expected to be allowed to compete for FTS 2001 business, but GSA has not yet approved any crossovers from local to long-distance contracts.

An April GAO report criticized the prolonged FTS 2001 transition, spreading the blame among the prime contractors, GSA, customer agencies and local exchange carriers [GCN, April 30, Page 33].

AT&T argued that in the course of the transition GSA changed or relaxed contract requirements for length of transition, timeliness of service delivery, availability and quality of service, trouble handling, customer support, billing, risk assessment, and personnel and program management.

It urged GAO to force GSA to terminate the existing FTS 2001 contracts, revise the solicitation and solicit new proposals.

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