Qwest Loses FTS Protest

Qwest Loses FTS Protest

The General Accounting Office ruled June 25 that Qwest Communications International Inc. had no legal standing to protest the General Services Administration's award of so-called bridge contracts to AT&T Corp. and Sprint Communications Corp. in December 2000.

The bridge contracts were extensions of the FTS2000 contract, the 1988 long-distance telecommunications contract for services to the federal government.

Sprint of Westwood, Kan., and WorldCom Inc. of Clinton, Miss., were awarded the FTS2001 successor contract 10 years later, but extensions to the old contract were needed to give federal agencies time to transition services.

Qwest, based in Denver, had argued that GSA knew months before the
existing bridge contracts expired that Sprint and WorldCom would not meet their transition dates. The company argued that the agency, therefore, should have offered the extensions for competitive bidding.

But GAO ruled that because Qwest is barred from offering long-distance services in the 14 states where it provides local telecommunications services, the company could not have met the government's requirement for a contractor that can supply nationwide long distance. That meant that "Qwest is not an interested party to question the extension of AT&T's and Sprint's bridge contracts," the GAO concluded. It dismissed the protest.

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