GSA Awards Bell Atlantic DC Metropolitan Area Local Telecommunications Services Contract Government Business Under WITS2001 Could Exceed $1 Billion Over 8 Years
January 27, 2000
Contact: Bill Bearden (202-501-1231)
WASHINGTON -- Bell Atlantic has been awarded a contract by the U.S. General Services Administration to provide a broad range of local telecommunications voice and data services to federal agencies in the Washington metropolitan area. The contract, known as WITS2001, is for four bases years with four one-year options and has an estimated value of government business exceeding $1 billion over the 8 years.
WITS2001 follows the original Washington Interagency Telecommunications System contract, awarded to C&P Telephone (now Bell Atlantic) on January 12, 1989. For more than a decade, that contract has afforded federal government users local telephone service at the lowest rates available in the Washington, DC area. WITS2001 will build on this history by providing even lower rates for local telephone service. It will add a broad array of non-voice and technical support services, and telecommunications equipment under a single, comprehensive contract.
"This award again confirms that GSA is in the very forefront of the emerging revolution in delivery of local telecommunications services," said GSA Administrator David J. Barram. "It culminates a very effective competition and clearly demonstrates the value that can be achieved by leveraging the combined volume of federal agency business in the marketplace. This contract will allow us to pass along even greater savings and flexibility to our federal customers than we did under the very successful WITS contract."
"This award continues the unbroken string of successes achieved in our recent telecommunications services acquisition programs," said Dennis Fischer, Commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service. "Our FTS2001 contracts awarded a year ago, allowed GSA to deliver long-distance services at the lowest rates in the industry. Our first metropolitan area acquisition contracts, awarded this past May for New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, set new low pricing paradigms for local telephone service that shattered the previous industry norms. We are excited that WITS2001 will allow us to establish similar new benchmarks for local telephone service rates in the Washington, DC area, which is our largest and most important region in terms of numbers of customers served."
The WITS2001 contract covers the broadest range of telecommunications services and equipment ever combined in a single GSA contract vehicle. In addition to voice and circuit-switched data services carried over from the current WITS contract, it offers expanded dedicated transmission service, switched multi-megabit data service, frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode data services, voice and video teleconferencing service, and internet access service. Agencies may also buy customer premises equipment, such as telephones, PBXs or routers, and technical support services such as equipment maintenance or project management. "This contract is an important step in our continuing evolution toward full service offerings with one-stop shopping for our customers," said Barram.
In addition to its broad scope, the WITS2001 contract offers unprecedented flexibility to user agencies. With web-based service ordering, flexible billing options, and direct access by agencies to the contractor, WITS2001 allows agencies to tailor their use of the contract to their specific ordering and management practices, with support from GSA as needed. "Some agencies prefer to act autonomously, while others do not," said Fischer. "This contract allows them a full range of operating options to exercise as they see fit. Our customers spoke and we listened."
The contract is also unique because it covers both the delivery of services using contractor networks, and the management of the government-owned network used to deliver WITS services today, with a clear transition away from government ownership.
"Over the past 10 years, ownership of the WITS network has allowed GSA to manage its costs and deliver services to its customers at very competitive prices," said Fischer. "However, with the emergence of competition in the local services arena, it is now clear that there is far greater value to be gained by allowing the forces of competition to act in the open marketplace on our behalf. We are excited that this contract allows us to bring the benefits of competition to our customers immediately, while simultaneously allowing us to attract new users and migrate existing WITS users to the new environment in the most cost-effective manner possible. This, in turn, will allow us to better leverage the benefits of continuing competition over time."
The move away from government ownership also broadens the geographic reach of GSA's local service program in the region. Previously, GSA was only able to offer its best rates to users whose work sites were within reach of the government-owned network. Under the new contract, the contractor's voice and data networks will be used to deliver the services, with predetermined rates that cover the entire region. Thus agencies will be able to plan for and obtain service anywhere they wish in and around the Nation's Capitol, for as many or as few users as needed, at known rates, whether for existing offices, new offices, or even for individual telecommuters at their homes. The serving area can also be expanded, if necessary, to pick up any additional communities of government users that agencies wish to add to the contract. "Under this contract," notes Fischer, "we will be able to go wherever the customers are."
Like other GSA FTS telecommunications contracts, the WITS2001 contract contains specific provisions intended to ensure its ongoing competitive viability. Technology refreshment terms require the contractor to incorporate new services into the contract as they become commercially available in the region. A price management mechanism has been incorporated to ensure that the contractor's prices to GSA remain on par with the best available prices in the marketplace, regardless of how far down competitive pressures drive them. Lastly, the contract allows GSA to accept offers from other FTS2001 or MAA service providers to deliver competing services in the WITS2001 serving area after a one year forbearance period, if it is determined to be in the government's best interests to do so. "We will not settle for complacency in ourselves or our contractors," said Fischer, "but will continue to seek the advantages of continuous competition for our customers."
This award follows more than three years of acquisition work, with input from FTS, industry, and the federal government telecommunications user community in the region. "Our goal was to craft a contract and program that met our customers' requirements for breadth of services, ease of use, and best available prices," said Sandy Bates, FTS Deputy Commissioner. "We knew that this would not be possible without serious competition for the award, and we were not disappointed. The competition was vigorous, and in the end we obtained excellent results. We believe that WITS2001 will be the premier contract vehicle for the delivery of telecommunications services to government users in the Washington, DC area for years to come. In fact, we fully expect to serve a greater number of users than ever before, and will begin discussions with current and potential new customers immediately to determine how we might best serve them."
GSA is an executive branch agency that provides policy leadership and expertly managed space, products, services and solutions at the best value to enable federal employees to accomplish their missions. GSA's Federal Technology Service includes multi-disciplinary teams dedicated to providing leadership within the federal government in procuring information technology and telecommunications services at the lowest cost to the taxpayer and the greatest value to federal agencies.
Additional Background Information on WITS2001 Program Features
- Program Level
- Achieves lowest known prices for telecommunications services in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
- Four base years plus four one-year options.
- Single contract award covering fully integrated operation of government-owned network and contractor provided services, with migration of all users to a service-based environment.
- Geographic scope covering entire National Capital Region, extendable to additional surrounding areas when necessary to serve user communities of interest.
- Broadest range of local service offerings of any government telecommunications contract, with provisions to add long distance services in the future.
- Includes price management mechanisms to keep prices at or below best commercial prices.
- Includes technology refreshment and new services provisions to keep service offerings on par with latest available in commercial market place.
- After a one-year forbearance period, the government may allow additional contractors to offer competing services if judged to be in the government's best interests.
- State-of-the-art electronic operations capabilities, including Web-based ordering and paperless data management and billing.
- Unprecedented flexibility and usability for government agencies, allowing user-defined levels of autonomy for ordering, billing, and contractor interactions.
- Full-featured commercial telephone service with Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) capabilities
- Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) telephone service
- Circuit-switched data services
- Switched Multi-megabit Data Service (SMDS)
- Dedicated transmission (private line) services
- Audio and video teleconferencing services
- Frame Relay data services
- Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) data services
- Internet access, web hosting/authoring, and firewall services
- Advanced and emerging services, such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services, in scope
- Many voice features included at no additional charge
- No usage charges for any calls between government users on the integrated government/contractor network ("on-net calls")
- Reduced usage charges for calls leaving the government/contractor network ("off-net calls")
- Retention of phone numbers for existing and new users
- Services compatible with existing agency equipment to minimize transition cost and complexity
- Flexible service delivery points to allow agencies to define contractor responsibility level as desired, from network interface point (e.g., for PBX connection) all the way to desktop telephone or data interface.
- Comprehensive set of network and customer premises equipment (e.g., PBXs, routers, telephones) available for purchase
- National Security/Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) capabilities supported
- Comprehensive planning and installation support services supported, including inside wiring and building connectivity
- Technical support personnel available at fixed hourly, monthly, and annual rates