GSA to issue National Capital telecom, data solicitation in March

The General Services Administration will issue a draft request for proposal in early March for its $1.8 billion follow-on contract for local telecommunications and data services in the Washington metropolitan area, an agency official said today.

Industry will have one month after the issuance of the draft RFP to submit responses for the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 program (WITS 3). GSA expects to issue a final RFP in early summer, with proposals due 90 days after issuance, said Frederick Haines, chief operating officer of GSA's Federal Technology Service for the National Capital Region. He spoke to Washington Technology after a luncheon meeting today in Washington held by the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association.

WITS 3 is an eight-year contract that will replace the current WITS2001 program that expires in January 2008. It will consist of a four-year base period and four one-year options.

GSA intends to issue firm fixed-price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity, multiple awards for WITS 3 in the first quarter of 2007, Haines said. The agency originally was to issue awards for WITS 3 in January 2007.

Under the WITS 3 contract, GSA is considering a minimum revenue requirement of $20 million with the contract's ceiling set at $1.8 billion, he said. Haines said he could not specify the number of awards to be made, but indicated it would be based on the amount of competition. Offerors must propose voice services to be eligible for an award, but data services will be optional, he said. The contract also will allow for the introduction of new and emerging technologies, he said.

Haines also said he didn't know when GSA would release an update about the WITS 3 program on the Web site.

GSA had been silent on the WITS 3 program since last summer after it received fewer industry responses than anticipated in late August following its request for information issued July 25, 2005. The delay in additional information on WITS 3 had been due, in part, to GSA's own internal reorganization and not to the agency receiving fewer responses than it had hoped for. He added that GSA received between two and 10 industry responses to its RFI.

The current WITS2001 contract, held by Verizon Communications Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc., lets federal agencies in the national capital region buy local access, data and telecommunications equipment. Verizon of New York won the original eight-year, $1.4 billion WITS2001 contract in 2000. Qwest of Denver was added later as part of a crossover agreement, which lets Metropolitan Area Acquisition telecom contractors compete in additional MAA markets. Nearly 750,000 federal clients in both defense and civilian agencies in the national capital region use WITS2001 services, Haines said.

The national capital region includes Washington, the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George's; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; and the Virginia cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Fairfax and Falls Church.

Besides providing continued local telecom services within the Washington region, WITS 3 also will serve as a platform for users to migrate to GSA's Networx contract. Networx is the agency's 10-year, $20 billion governmentwide contract for telecom and networks, for which multiple awards will be issued in March 2007 and May 2007.

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