Employee claims GSA owes him a million bucks

A General Services Administration employee is trying to get the agency to pay him
around $1 million that he claims he earned in an employee suggestion program.


Salvatore D. Ales, a GSA contracting specialist, has filed a grievance against agency
officials, saying they owe him a cash award for devising a price negotiation tactic that
saved the government millions of dollars on its FTS 2000 contracts.


Ales said he was the first to tell FTS 2000 program officials the government could use
special tariffs as a benchmark for negotiating lower prices on modifications and
enhancements to the long-haul communications contract for the federal government.


He said he submitted his tariff-related services proposal through GSA's Employee
Suggestion Program, which allows employees to get a percentage of the tangible benefits
generated by their ideas.


In his grievance, Ales said his supervisors initially dismissed his tariff idea,
arguing that FTS prices were set by law and that there was no negotiating room.


Ales presented a copy of a memo from his immediate supervisor that recommended he
receive a $1.04 million award based on the fact that his suggested strategy helped the
agency save $7.9 million in the T-45 modification.


Ales claimed GSA officials adopted his pricing strategy idea in 1992 to negotiate FTS
2000 modifications, including those for the Dedicated Transmission Service Multipoint. GSA
saved millions, but Ales said agency officials refused to give him any credit for the
idea.


In April, an arbitrator found in Ales' favor and instructed GSA and Ales to negotiate
the compensation due Ales.


GSA appealed the arbitrator's ruling to the Federal Labor Relations Authority. But its
appeal was denied.


Now Ales and his attorneys are preparing for another hearing before the arbitrator, who
may determine the amount of money GSA owes Ales.


GSA spokesman Bill Bearden said agency officials will not comment on the case until it
is resolved.


But Ales said the agency is stalling to avoid admitting that FTS 2000 officials were
unaware that the government was paying far too much for phone service. "In effect,
the government had been paying retail rather than wholesale prices. I made a suggestion
that they found politically embarrassing and refused to acknowledge," Ales said.
"But they later implemented it and gave the credit to others."


"Now that the facts are hitting the fan, they don't want anyone to know that this
employee made a suggestion that they first resisted and then used," said Mark
Winston, Ales' attorney. "What the government should be saying is, isn't it wonderful
that my client had the imagination and the initiative to save the government a lot of
money. He should be viewed as a model for others."


In briefs filed in the arbitration proceeding, Marcia L. Smart, GSA's assistant general
counsel, said Ales failed to present any evidence that he was the first person to
introduce Federal Communications Commission tariffs into the FTS 2000 "publicly
available price cap" pricing mechanism as a means of comparing FTS prices with what
the contractors, AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp., were charging their larger corporate
customers.


Smart's briefs also stated that Ales failed to show that he was responsible for
changing the way GSA negotiated enhancements and that he mischaracterized many facts. In
addition, GSA officials said they had previous knowledge and use of the tariffs in
negotiating modifications.


Ales, who joined the FTS 2000 contracting shop in 1991, said he discovered the special
tariffs option through his own research and talks with FCC officials.


After alerting his co-workers and supervisors to the tariff negotiation scheme, Ales
said, he submitted the idea in writing in June 1992. But Ales said his managers rejected
the written proposal because it would show that the agency previously had failed to obtain
the best prices.


As evidence that his was the original and only tariff recommendation, Ales presented an
audit report by GSA's inspector general that said GSA had never used special tariffs
before.


In his decision, the arbitrator found that Ales had discovered and urged the use of the
tariff scheme and that his award should be in line with the $1 million recommended by his
supervisor.


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