Leadership at FTS doesn't skip a beat

Leadership at FTS doesn't skip a beat

Dennis J. Fischer says he sees strength in having FTS and FSS remain separate.

With Fischer leaving, GSA quickly names Bates as commissioner, squelching talk of merger with FSS

By Christopher J. Dorobek and William Jackson

GCN Staff

The General Services Administration sought to project continuity this month after the announcement that Dennis J. Fischer'onced called 'the best damn bean counter in Washington' by one federal veteran'will leave his post as commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service on April 2.

Almost immediately, GSA administrator David J. Barram announced that FTS deputy commissioner Sandra N. Bates would replace Fischer. The move was widely seen as a clear indication that GSA has no plans to merge FTS and the Federal Supply Service, as some industry officials have suggested.

Fischer is leaving government for Visa International Corp. of San Francisco, where he will be a vice president of integration sales and solutions for the federal card division.

Changing tracks

Fischer said that having just turned 60 and after having the 'greatest job in government,' he wanted to find something he could do for a few more years. Visa presented him with a good opportunity to continue working with the government sector, he said.

The biggest successes of his tenure were the completion of the FTS 2001 contracts and the Metropolitan Area Acquisitions for local phone service, Fischer said. FTS has also been able to increase its business each year, he said'by 35 percent in fiscal 1998 and 25 percent in fiscal 1999.

FTS is a $6 billion-a-year information technology and telecommunications support program. In addition to FTS 2001, FTS has been branching out into other services, including IT security, digital certificates and Seat Management PC outsourcing contracts.

Fischer was widely praised for his work as commissioner.

'He is leaving behind a positive legacy,' said Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement. Fischer, Allen said, could have used the job as a way station en route to the private sector, but he put his mark on the organization.

Good wishes

'Dennis Fischer took over the leadership role on FTS and has been guiding it through the critical transition phase from FTS 2000 to 2001. We wish him well in his new endeavors,' said Jerry Edgerton, senior vice president of MCI WorldCom Inc.

'It has been a pleasure working with Dennis. He ran the FTS 2001 program and other FTS initiatives with honesty, integrity and fairness,' said Anthony D'Agata, vice president and general manager of Sprint Corp.'s government systems division. 'I think I speak for everyone at the government systems division when I wish him well in his new endeavors.'

Fischer became commissioner in 1997 when former commissioner Bob Woods left to join the private sector. It was Woods who conferred the best-bean-counter title on Fischer.

Before his tenure at FTS, Fischer was GSA's chief financial officer.

Some industry officials were surprised that GSA did not use Fischer's departure as an opportunity to consider merging FTS with FSS.

'Anytime you have a change at the helm like this you want to look to see if this may or may not be the right time' to consolidate the two organizations, Allen said. Combining the two could provide organizational and economic benefits while letting the organizations share staff at a time when hiring personnel is difficult, he said.

Fischer, however, said he sees strength in having separate organizations.

Bates began her federal career in 1969 with the original FTS. After working at NASA for several years, Bates returned in 1997 to GSA, where she was responsible for the FTS 2000 contract. She was named deputy commissioner in November 1997.

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