AT&T bridge contract ends

Two years after the FTS2000 long-distance contract was supposed to expire, the federal government has stopped using the contract and has completed its transition to the FTS2001 contract.

A "thimbleful" of federal offices had their lines disconnected when AT&T Corp.'s contract extension expired at midnight Dec. 6, said a General Services Administration spokesman.

AT&T, a holder of the FTS2000 contract, had provided long-distance services to agencies under a "bridge contract" while they switched to the FTS2001 program.

Sprint Communications Corp. and WorldCom Inc. are now the primary providers of long distance services to the federal government.

About 63 circuits in nine federal departments, including Defense, Veterans Affairs, Social Security and the Smithsonian Institution, had not moved to the new contract when the bridge contract expired, GSA officials said.

The bridge contract, running from Dec. 7, 2000, to Dec. 6, 2001, was controversial when it was announced, in part because it was an extension of an extension: AT&T negotiated its first one-year bridge contract in December 1999 to give agencies time to make the change.

Sprint, which also had been a vendor on the original FTS2000 contract, received two extensions as well: the first for one year, the second for six months. The company completed its transition work by the second deadline.

The General Accounting Office determined that from December 2000 to April 2001 alone, Sprint and AT&T together billed almost $160 million in bridge services.

Qwest Communications International Inc., Denver, filed a protest of the extensions, claiming GSA did not follow procedures in granting the bridge contract, and that the contract raised prices and blocked competition. GAO dismissed the protest.

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