American Telephone & Telegraph Co. yesterday demanded that the General Services Administration remove from responsibilities in telecommunications contracts any agency officials who are under investigation for alleged corruption in a $55 million telephone equipment contract.
"We would be gravely concerned about the continuing participation of those individuals in other telecommunications procurements," AT&T spokesman Herbert Linnen said last night.
A GSA official last night rejected the idea, saying, "At this point, there's not enough information to justify removing anyone from anything."
The company also renewed a request that GSA disclose to it any information it has that suggests that AT&T's proprietary information may have been disclosed illegally to its competitors by GSA officials during contract proceedings.
AT&T refused a request that GSA made to it Monday to voluntarily withdraw a protest that it filed with the Board of Contract Appeals about the contract, which was awarded in October. GSA maintains that proceedings on the protest conflict with a separate investigation into the contract by the GSA inspector general.
GSA has stressed that it has not concluded that any impropriety occurred.
AT&T would be free to reinstate its protest in the future under GSA's proposal, and the agency would report confidentially from time to time to the board on the progress of the inspector general's investigation. Proceedings on AT&T's protest have been suspended by the board for three weeks at GSA's request.
AT&T and GSA lawyers met yesterday, with GSA urging withdrawal of the protest and AT&T countering with its proposal. Both sides said last night that no agreement was reached and that talks would continue. In the meantime, GSA filed a new request with the board, an independent body that adjudicates contract disputes, requesting that it suspend or dismiss AT&T's protest for 75 days.
AT&T alleges that GSA officials discriminated against it in considering applications to supply the equipment, 12 computerized switching centers for the federal government's in-house long distance network. Proceedings to resolve that complaint were underway at the Board of Contract Appeals when the board suspended them at GSA's request.
AT&T has complained repeatedly that it has been kept in the dark about the inspector general's probe and has hinted broadly that the investigation may be intended to delay resolution of its protest.
GSA general counsel Clyde Pearce denied there is any desire for delay. He said, "If anybody's anxious to get this thing resolved and move on with the procurement, it's GSA."
The switch contract is intended to upgrade the federal government's phone network, pending an all-new system called FTS-2000.
The section of GSA that handled the switch contracts is the same that will oversee FTS-2000 contracts.