Qwest, Northrop Grumman protest $1 billion TCE award

Three vendors are protesting the Treasury Department's award of the $1 billion Treasury Communications Enterprise contract to AT&T Corp.

Qwest Inc. of Denver was the latest to file a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office. Incumbent Northrop Grumman Corp. was the first, on Dec. 10. Shortly after Northrop Grumman, Broadwing Communications LLC of Columbia, Md., filed the second protest.

Three other vendors that competed for the TCE deal have not protested: Level-3 Communications Inc. of Broomfield Colo., MCI Communications Corp. and Sprint Corp.

A Sprint official said today that the company would not protest the award. But the company will "look with interest" at GAO's ruling," said Tony D'Agata, vice president and general manager of Sprint's government systems division.

Qwest said in its protest that Treasury did not conduct adequate discussions with the company nor allow it to make a final proposal. "The Treasury Department did not engage in discussion with Qwest after we completed our technically complex proposal," Qwest spokeswoman Claire Mylottsaid . "Our hope is that this protest procedure will enable us to submit a final proposal submission to Treasury," she said.

GAO will rule on all the protests by March 21, said Dan Gordon, GAO's associate general counsel and head of the bid protest unit. Although the vendors filed their protests on different dates, GAO will apply its 100-day rule based on the filing of the first grieveance by Northrop Grumman, he said.

Under the lucrative contract awarded to AT&T by the IRS on Dec. 6, Treasury will build a next-generation enterprise network serving tens of thousands of users. Northrop Grumman's 10-year contract expires in September.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract will have a three-year base period valued at $381 million, plus seven one-year options. AT&T will provide a single, departmentwide area network including technology, support and management for Treasury's 850 locations.

AT&T said it will build a secure, high-speed virtual private network designed to handle Treasury's voice, video and data traffic. Treasury employees will be able to communicate with any location or data center over a common, low-cost network that will accommodate future requirements, such as voice over IP and real-time video services. With a common Web interface, Treasury users will have access to online ordering, billing, help desk support and network performance information to manage the network.

AT&T declined to comment because it had not seen the protest yet. Treasury did not return calls for comment.

About the Authors

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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