GSA gives technology service a face-lift

FTS’ Charles
Self says sellers have a personal interest in a contract instead of in customer needs. GSA
will change that.

Just eight months after a major reorganization, the General Services Administration is
again tinkering with its Federal Technology Service. This time the effort focuses on
streamlining FTS operations.

As part of the shift, FTS will separate contract administration from contract
marketing. The agency will also respond to agencies’ concerns that its 11 regional
offices oversee many different and often duplicative contracts. FTS now plans to make all
contracts available nationwide.

“The goal is to not have sellers tied to any particular solution,” said
Charles Self, FTS assistant commissioner for information technology integration.

The FTS officer who now helps oversee a procurement also manages the resulting
contract. “We have the selling of contracts and the management of the contracts
together,” Self said.

That has created a situation in which the sellers have a personal interest in a
specific contract rather than an agency customer’s needs, he said.

“The sellers have a parochial interest in selling the contract that they had
awarded,” Self said. “What we’re doing is separating the selling from the
contract award developer.”

This is the second reorganization of FTS in less than a year. Last fall, GSA moved many
of its systems services organizations into the branch, and it renamed the former Federal
Telecommunications Service to reflect the broader scope [GCN, Oct. 20, 1997, Page 54].

“The goal is for our customers. No matter where they are located around the
country, they should not be geographically challenged,” FTS deputy commissioner Sandy
Bates said.

GSA officials had come to recognize that it didn’t make sense to have each region
running similar contracts, she said.

“There is so much work to do that we can’t really have everybody doing
everything,” she said.

As part of the realignment, FTS will designate specific regional offices as client
support centers and solution development centers for certain services. For example, FTS
will designate the San Francisco office as the primary center for IT services.

FTS officials also have decided that the Federal Computer Acquisition Center will
continue to provide contract management services.

But GSA is still fine-tuning many of the realignment plans. It will finish all the
changes by Oct. 1, Bates said.

The reorganization isn’t about changing titles or shifting boxes on an
organizational chart, Bates said, but rather about how they operate. Externally, the goal
is better customer service, Bates said. Internally, it’s maximizing GSA resources,
she said.

Bob Woods, a former FTS commissioner and now president and chief operating officer for
Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., said the change addresses problems he encountered
during his tenure at GSA. There were too many services offered from too many different
locations, and agencies had a hard time figuring out which office to contact, he said.


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