GSA'S Planned Procurement of a Consolidated Telephone System for the Washington, D.C., Area

LCD-80-72: Published: Jun 27, 1980. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 1980.

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A request was made to review the General Services Administration's (GSA) planned replacement of existing multiple telephone systems, which serve most Federal civil organizations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, with a single consolidated system. The replacement system was to be an interim measure while GSA completed plans for a competitively procured follow-on system which would satisfy the Government's long-term needs.

The action by GSA to terminate its planning is an appropriate course of action because the interim system may not have satisfied users' needs or provided economies to the Government. However, GAO believed that the preliminary study by GSA is a significant step in the right direction because it identifies a potential need for enhanced telephone services and potential for economies through consolidation. As such, it demonstrates that more comprehensive work is needed to identify potential system(s) parameters, in such areas as subgeographic areas, similarities of current and future user needs, and communities of interest that are in the Government's best interest. This work can be used to develop a long-range comprehensive plan on system(s) in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. OMB Circular A-109 on major systems acquisitions did apply to the planned acquisition of an interim systems. GAO believed that the planned use of the exception provision in A-109 was not justified principally because GSA had not demonstrated urgency of need. GSA made no specific inquiries to the telecommunications industry to determine its interest and ability, either as a single entity or joint venture effort, in supplying GSA needs.

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