GAO Dismisses AT&T Protest of FTS2001

AT&T Corp.'s attempt to overturn the FTS2001 program has been rebuffed by the General Accounting Office.

The federal watchdog agency June 14 dismissed the company's request that the contract be withdrawn and recompeted.

Tania Calhoun, an attorney with the GAO, said the agency found that the company's dispute with the General Services Administration was a matter of contract administration and, therefore, not within the GAO's jurisdiction.

FTS2001 is the GSA's long-distance telecommunications contract, awarded more than two years ago to Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc. The eight year contract has an estimated value of $2.3 billion.

"GSA is pleased by the dismissal of the protest by the General Accounting Office," said agency spokesman Bill Bearden in a written statement. "The GAO decision affirms the agency's position and enables GSA to continue to administer the FTS2001 contracts for the benefit of federal agencies without disruptive litigation."

AT&T originally filed a protest with the GSA at the end of April, asking that the contract be overturned. The company alleged the agency had modified the terms of the contract after it was awarded.

Before the GSA could issue a decision on the complaint, AT&T officials withdrew it and refiled it with the GAO, after GSA representatives told company attorneys the complaint would be denied.

GAO's Calhoun said AT&T could request that the agency reconsider its decision to dismiss the protest, it could decide to file a lawsuit in federal court, or it could accept the decision as final.

AT&T representatives did not return calls for comment by press time.

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