DREN contract continues to haunt DISA

Another round of protests has begun in the never-ending saga of the Defense Research and Engineering Network contract.

Sprint Communications Corp., Westwood, Kan., and Global Crossing Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda, have again filed protests with the General Accounting Office over the Defense Information Systems Agency's decision to award the $450 million contract to WorldCom Inc., Jackson, Miss.

It is the second time both companies have filed protests over the WorldCom award, and this time around WorldCom's alleged financial misrepresentations are the foundation for their complaints.

Sprint filed its new protest July 3. "The allegation is that the award to MCI/WorldCom is now known to be improper," said Dan Gordon, associate general counsel at GAO. Sprint had withdrawn its earlier protest against the award to WorldCom.

Global Crossing filed its new protest July 5, arguing that its disqualification as a bidder on the DREN contract because of its own bankruptcy should be reconsidered in light of WorldCom's woes and improvements in its own situation.

"Having completed most of our restructuring activities, we are well on our way to completing a successful reorganization," Global Crossing said in a statement. "At the same time, we have met all of our financial targets, continued to serve approximately 85,000 customers, signed up new customers, and even improved network performance. We believe that our stability and outstanding performance warrants the reconsideration."

The DREN contract is a 10-year contract to provide a telecommunications network for more than 6,000 scientists and engineers at laboratories, test centers, universities and engineering sites around the country.

Global Crossing originally was awarded the contract in July 2001. The losing bidders ? Sprint; AT&T Corp., New York; WorldCom; and Qwest Communications International Inc., Denver ? filed protests. DISA yanked the award before the GAO could issue a decision.

The contract then went through a second evaluation, and DISA was on the verge of awarding it to Global Crossing again, but the company filed for bankruptcy protection in January. The agency subsequently awarded the contract to WorldCom.

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