GSA will cut agency phone bills

Consolidating the responsibility for government
telecommunications needs in one office will reduce agencies' local line charges by about
$4 a line per month, starting this month.

General Services Administrator Roger W. Johnson announced the consolidated role of the
new Federal Telecommunications Service (FTS) last month just as Congress agreed to
continue mandatory agency use of FTS 2000 services in fiscal 1996. The lawmakers also
asked the General Accounting Office for an independent comparison of FTS 2000 prices vs.
open-market prices.

Heading the new FTS office is Robert J. Woods, GSA's associate administrator for the
FTS 2000 governmentwide long-distance program. Local services previously were the
responsibility of GSA's IT Service, headed by Commissioner Joe Thompson.

Woods said the new office gives agencies a "single point of contact" for
customer service. "This group essentially will champion customer needs, act as
customer advocate and make it easier to do business with GSA," he said.

The office was hailed by the Interagency Agency Management Council, an advisory group
that had urged Johnson to combine local and long-distance service programs. "We
support Roger Johnson's decision and look forward to a continued partnership with
GSA," said council chairwoman Sandra Bates of NASA.

Woods will oversee 225 people involved in the FTS 2000 program as well as 65 who are
responsible for local services. However, 600 employees who work on local services will
continue to report to GSA regional administrators.

The $4 savings in line charges that agencies should see in their October bills will
come from GSA's reduction of 225 to 250 jobs associated with telecommunications services.
About 100 of those workers have taken buyouts; the rest will leave through attrition or
will transfer into other programs.

GSA has set a goal for the next three to four years of cutting local costs from the
current average of $28 per line, including $11 in overhead charges, to about $15 per line,
includ $5 overhead. GSA supplies about 600,000 local lines to agencies.

The consolidation of local and long-haul services will have no effect on the post-FTS
2000 draft solicitation, currently out for comments, or on the Washington Interagency
Telecommunications System and Aggregated Systems Procurement for local services. In the
long run, GSA likely will be looking to buy end-to-end services.

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