DISA kills $400m research net contract

DISA kills $400m research net contract

The Defense Department has canceled a $400 million contract with Global Crossing Ltd. of Bermuda to add advanced fiber-optic services to the Defense Research and Engineering Network.

The move by the Defense Information Systems Agency came last month in response to protests lodged by AT&T Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver, Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc. The DREN project will connect more than 6,000 scientists and engineers throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories.

Last month, DISA chose Global Crossing's government markets unit in Washington to design, develop and manage the DREN network. But in an Aug. 14 letter to the General Accounting Office, DISA announced its intent to cancel the contract in the wake of the protests.

'The agency will take corrective action to ensure that the procurement of DREN complies with the applicable acquisition regulations,' the letter said.

DISA officials would not comment on speculation that they would reopen the competition.

No word

Kelly Malarkey, spokeswoman for Global Crossing, said her company had received notice of DISA's intent from GAO but had not heard directly from DISA. 'We are still optimistic, and we're certainly confident that we will be the winner' in the end, Malarkey said.

The contract being canceled had a three-year base with seven option years. It would have been worth at least $137 million and up to $400 million had DOD exercised all options. DREN is part of DOD's High-Performance Computing Modernization Program.

DREN will link Defense laboratories, test centers, universities and industry sites on a single, contiguous-fiber network with IP and asynchronous transfer mode transmission for video, audio and data.

Ray Bjorklund, vice president of Federal Sources Inc., a market research and consulting firm in McLean, Va., said DISA is expected to reissue bid solicitations shortly.

The losing bidders each filed a protest independent of one another, which he called a clear indication that the process was flawed.

'We think there's something smelly in this,' Bjorklund said. 'Something was wrong in the award, and they are going to try and make it right.'

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