State looks for firm to run telecom services

42 jobs could be affected by privatizing state communications

Posted: Thursday, August 03, 2000

The state is moving ahead with plans to contract out more telecommunications services. The Department of Administration today issued a request for proposals on the project.

The change could affect 42 state jobs, but Administration Commissioner Bob Poe said vendors will be required to include plans for dealing fairly with state workers.

A labor-management committee is working on a document spelling out how the bidders need to address that issue. That document will be presented to potential bidders at an Aug. 29 pre-bid conference, Poe said.

Chuck O'Connell, the business manager for the Alaska State Employees Association, could not immediately be reached for comment this morning. ASEA is a union representing some of the affected employees.

Poe said the various state departments spend about $26 million a year on telecommunications -- from long distance telephone service to satellite communications to Internet connections.

Already, about $21.5 million of that telecommunications service is contracted out or spent on purchases with 357 different companies, Poe said. Forty-six of those do more than $50,000 worth of business with the state, and five do more than $1 million worth of business with the state.

The state is looking for one ``prime contractor'' to handle all those telecommunications services that are already contracted out, plus part of the additional $4.5 million that is still done by the state.

Poe expects a consortium of companies, rather than one single company, will bid on the job, but they will work together.

If companies bidding on the deal can't show they can do the work less expensively than the state is doing it, the change won't be made.

``We don't know that they can,'' Poe said. ``The only way we'll know it is to see it in a proposal.''

It's expected to take three months for vendors to develop proposals and bring them back to the state.

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