Bidders seek costs from Treasury over TCE contract

Originally posted Jan. 5 at 9:52 AM and updated Jan. 5 at 12:15 PM

(UPDATED) Three bidders for the Treasury Department's cancelled Treasury Communications Enterprise contract have filed documents to recoup costs incurred over years of developing proposals for the doomed billion-dollar project.

Qwest Government Services Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc. filed their requests Dec. 28 and Broadwing Communications LLC filed earlier this week as part of the bid protest process with the Government Accountability Office. Bidders had until Wednesday to file to take advantage of the remedy.

GAO had included the ability for bidders to reclaim their costs as part of the agreement it crafted between Treasury and the vendors after the first bid protest in TCE's contentious history, said Diana Gowen, Qwest senior vice president and general manager.

Treasury has until April 9 to respond to the bidders' filings, GAO said. Treasury could not comment on litigation, a Treasury spokeswoman said.

Treasury last month dropped TCE and signed on with the General Services Administration's Networx contract for its next-generation data, video and voice communications when it becomes available later this year.

TCE was an expensive proposition, Gowen said. For example, when she was at Broadwing, one of the original TCE bidders, the vendor's proposal organization was not capable of completing the process without help. Vendors sometimes have to augment their staffs with contractors.

'It cost us $500,000,' she said.

When Treasury re-competed the TCE contract, many vendors also were preparing for the Networx contract proposal, she said.

'If you look at TCE II, it came in when everyone was doing Networx work. It was a big strain on everybody's resources to be doing both,' Gowen said.

The TCE contract process has been charged with contention and intrigue as the administration and Congress exerted their authority to block Treasury from pursuing a departmentwide contract instead of participating in the governmentwide Networx. The Office of Management and Budget, GSA and Congress had criticized Treasury for bucking the trend to move to governmentwide contracts. It continued under the new GSA administrator, she said.

'Lurita Doan, from the day she arrived, has been convinced that GSA is the procurement shop for the federal government and that Treasury should fall in line,' Gowen said.

AT&T Corp. won the original $1 billion award in December 2004. Other original TCE bidders were Northrop Grumman Information Technology Inc., the incumbent vendor, MCI Communications Corp., and Sprint Corp.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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