Don't debar MCI, says taxpayer group

Beleaguered MCI has at least one supporter as the company fights efforts to have it debarred by the federal government due to its financial and legal troubles.

The conservative Americans for Tax Reform group has sent letters to Stephen Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, opposing debarment of MCI.

The Americans for Tax Reform argue that suspending MCI would hurt employees, taxpayers and national security because of the telecommunications services MCI provides to the Defense Department, intelligence agencies and FBI.

The General Services Administration's inspector general issued a report this week recommending that the government stop doing business with MCI, the market brand for WorldCom Inc. of Ashburn, Va., due to charges of accounting fraud and other illegal activities. WorldCom filed for bankruptcy last June and the Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating its accounting practices.

The company has continued to win government contracts, including the $450 million Defense Research and Engineering Network contract and a contract to build a wireless network in Iraq.

Critics have pushed for WorldCom to be barred from winning contracts because of its conduct, but WorldCom and now MCI officials have responded by saying that problems with the company had nothing to do with the way its government unit operated.

"We believe that whether or not MCI is awarded future government contracts should be dictated by basic free market principles," Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform wrote to Collins. "Just as the marketplace, and not the government, should decide whether or not the company succeeds or fails, MCI should win or lose in the competitive bidding process on the merits of its offerings."

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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