GSA seeks bids on Washington-area telecom contract

Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 contract has a maximum value of $1.8 billion.

The General Services Administration announced Friday that it had released a solicitation for voice and optional data services for federal agencies within the Washington metropolitan area.

Responses to the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 request for proposals are due March 5, with awards anticipated by the fourth quarter of this calendar year.

The contract has a maximum value of $1.8 billion and will be awarded for a base of four years with four one-year options. WITS-3 is a successor to WITS 2001, which expires in January 2008. The incumbents on that contract are Qwest and Verizon.

GSA previously had pulled back the solicitation's release on July 20, two weeks after announcing it would seek a vendor for Washington-area telecommunications services.

Telecom insiders attributed the delay to a dispute between GSA's National Capital Region and headquarters over the geographic scope of the solicitation. A larger coverage area would appease big federal entities with far-flung facilities, such as the Defense Department, but also would limit competition.

In addition to covering the District of Columbia, WITS-3 will cover Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William counties in Virginia; and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Fairfax and Falls Church, Va.

According to the proposal, other "locations sharing a community of interest" also would be included. Ann Everett, GSA's acting National Capital Region administrator, said a "community of interest" is a location currently served by WITS 2001, but outside the traditional boundaries of the National Capital Region. Those areas "are in the RFP beause we're trying to continue the services we currently provide," she said. WITS3 will not expand service offerings to new geographic areas, she added.