We are disappointed that the Mississippi Business Journal did not provide us the courtesy of hearing our point of view before taking a position against us in its recent Our View editorial.
On behalf of the thousands of employees who are working each and every day to keep Mississippi’s businesses and residents connected, and on behalf of the more than 4,000 retirees who call Mississippi home, we feel an obligation to rebut the unchallenged claims made by C-Spire and echoed by the MBJ.
In questioning the legitimacy of AT&T’s protest, the MBJ’s editors claim to know what is in the best interests for Mississippi. Yet MBJ apparently never reviewed the original Request for Proposals from the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS). Nor did it review the bid proposals from C-Spire and AT&T. Nor did it review AT&T’s protest.
Had MBJ conducted a journalistic review of those documents, it would have learned that C-Spire’s proposal failed to meet mandatory requirements imposed by the State. ITS expressly informed vendors that a failure to meet mandatory requirements would lead to an automatic disqualification from the bidding process. To illustrate, if a state agency seeks proposals for an air conditioning system and states that a central unit with ducts is a mandatory requirement, then a vendor who bids a patchwork collection of window units must be disqualified, even if that vendor’s proposal is the lowest cost bid.
In our protest, we are asking ITS to administer the rules as they were specified in the RFP. We are convinced C-Spire has not met, and cannot meet, some of the state’s mandatory requirements. We’ve laid out our concerns in detail, and the experts at ITS are reviewing our claims.
This is all in line with well-established Mississippi law – laws that ensure a fair and open state procurement process while also protecting the interests of tax payers. If we’re wrong, and our challenge is unsuccessful, C-Spire should have nothing to worry about. But all the C-Spire arm-waving and histrionics suggest C-Spire knows it has big problems.
Ultimately, our objective is to help the state ensure that, whatever bid it ultimately selects, it is getting the services it required in the RFP at a fair price. We believe our bid meets that goal, and C-Spire’s bid does not.
» MAYO FLYNT is the President of AT&T Mississippi.
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