Two DREN protesters withdraw

Two DREN protesters withdraw

Two of the three losing bidders in the Defense Research and Engineering Network procurement have withdrawn their protests of the 10-year, $450 million contract, awarded in April to their competitor, WorldCom Inc.

On May 28, Sprint Communications Corp. and AT&T Corp. notified the General Accounting Office they withdrew their protests against the Defense Information Systems Agency award. Neither company gave any reason for the sudden decision, said Dan Gordon, associate general counsel at GAO, who said such a process is normal.

'We closed the file on the Sprint protest and on the AT&T protest' the next day, Gordon said.

The only company still protesting DISA's decision is Global Crossing Ltd. of Bermuda. A fourth losing bidder, Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver, never filed a protest.

In a May 15 agency report to GAO, DISA defended the price model, past performance and financial capabilities of WorldCom Inc., which was chosen in April to build DREN. DISA said WorldCom met all criteria and offered the best value.

'For the government, the easiest selection decision to make is when the most advantageous proposal conforming to the request for proposals has the highest technical rating and also has the lowest price or cost,' wrote William L. Mayers, DISA's lawyer, in a redacted version of a response to GAO.

DISA questioned the timeliness of some of the protests, arguing that Global Crossing filed a supplemental protest of WorldCom's financial responsibility on May 3, although the company had been debriefed on April 10. DISA also noted that AT&T's supplemental protest was filed long after the 10-day limit following a debriefing.

Through DREN, DISA will bring long-haul telecommunications to more than 6,000 scientists and engineers at Defense Department laboratories, test centers, universities and industrial sites. The contract has a three-year base and seven one-year options. It is worth at least $137 million but could reach $450 million if all options are exercised.

Networking services for DREN are currently provided by a virtual WAN built on a public communications network supplied by AT&T. The DREN contract is a follow-on to the DREN Inter-site Services Contract. The original DISC contract expired on July 11, 2001 but was extended on a sole-source basis for a year with two one-year options.

The award to WorldCom marked the second award of the DREN contract in nine months. After protests of the initial award last July to Global Crossing, DISA killed the contract and reopened the procurement [see story at].

GAO will make a decision about Global Crossing's protest by July 22, Gordon said.

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