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Despite criticism, Treasury pushes big telecom contract forward.

Treasury contract should be merged with GSA's Networx contract, report says. Project is a giant waste of money, says congressional critic.

The Treasury Dept. plans to continue with a massive telecommunications contract called TCE, even though the department's inspector general and a congressman have found it deeply flawed, Federal Times reports.

The department poorly planned the procurement, leading to delays and higher costs, the Treasury Department IG said in a Feb. 10 audit. The department could have saved time and money by getting its telecom services from another contract, called Networx, that the General Services Administration is busy setting up, the audit said.

“I hate to say I told you so, but the IG report reveals exactly what I have been saying consistently for the last year: TCE is a disaster and ought to be abandoned before Treasury wastes even more precious taxpayer funds,” Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va. said in a Feb. 14 statement. “It’s a total mystery why the department has so stubbornly tried to move forward with TCE.”

As is  usually the case with critical IG reports, the  department is pressing ahead with the slightest of lip service to the IG process. “We appreciate the IG’s findings and are taking steps to follow up on their recommendations” to improve TCE, a spokeswoman said.

The IG said the department lacked documentation to back up its $1 billion cost estimate for the contract, and found little evidence that the department had considered using GSA telecom contracts instead. The department missed an opportunity to save millions when it rejected a GSA offer to work with Treasury to provide telecommunications services, the audit found.

The IG recommended that the department consider all options before awarding a contract, including canceling the solicitation.

 GSA’s pending Networx contracts are expected to provide all the services Treasury is seeking through TCE, wrote Marla Freedman, assistant inspector general for auditing at Treasury.