DREN contract draws second protest

DREN contract draws second protest

Another vendor has joined the Defense Research and Engineering Network protest fray. Original DREN winner, Global Crossing Ltd., today lodged its complaint of the Defense Information Systems Agency's award of the $450 million contract to WorldCom Inc.

Sprint Communications Corp. balked first, filing a protest April 12 [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/18380-1.html].

The two telecommunications companies lodged their protests with the General Accounting Office and cited inconsistencies in the evaluation criteria DISA used. GAO's decision is due July 22.

'There were errors in the assessment" of the bid, said Sprint spokesman John Polivka. 'We feel we were the more advantageous partnership for the government and their needs. We believe a retally of the scoring would indicate that.'

Global Crossing said that on April 4 DISA notified the company that it was ineligible because of its financial situation, said John Legere, the Bermuda company's chief executive officer. The company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In July, DISA had awarded the 10-year contract to Global Crossing, but the agency rescinded the contract a month later following protests from the other bidders.

DISA reopened the bidding in December. But days before DISA's planned award announcement in January, Global Crossing filed for bankruptcy protection. The agency postponed the contract award. The recent WorldCom selection earlier this month followed still another postponement.

'We were originally awarded the contract based on the merits of our technologically superior solution, cost-effectiveness and our experience offering similar services to other large customers,' Legere said. 'It is our contention that we met all of the stated criteria for demonstrating financial responsibility, and we therefore should have been considered for the contract.'

DISA said in a statement that it would 'demonstrate to GAO that the source selection was conducted in accordance with federal procurement statutes and regulations.'

It was unclear whether the remaining two bidders, Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver or AT&T Corp., also would protest the WorldCom contract.

Under the 10-year, $450 million contract, DISA wants the winning vendor to provide long-haul communications service for more than 5,000 users of the Defense Department's high-performance computing network.

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