GSA decides to close all but two warehouses

GSA decides to close all but two warehouses

Frank P. Pugliese cites competition as a reason for GSA's decision.

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

After months of deliberation, the General Services Administration announced last month that it would close six of its eight supply warehouses to streamline operations.

It is unclear how many jobs could be lost, GSA officials said, but as of February there were 312 Federal Supply Service employees working at the six sites. GSA is working to find other jobs for them. There will be significantly fewer job cuts than the 2,000 projected earlier, officials said.

Representatives of the American Federation of Government Em-ployees criticized the shutdown.

'I am grievously disappointed in GSA's announced determination' to close the warehouses, said Bobby L. Harnage Sr., national president of the union, which represents GSA workers.

The six sites that will close by next April are in Auburn, Wash.; Chicago; Denver; Franconia, Va.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Palmetto, Ga.

GSA plans to keep open its supply depots in Burlington, N.J., and Stockton, Calif.

'The long-term declining trend in sales, intensifying competition from commercial sources and an increasingly complex array of customer demands create business issues which require our attention,' GSA administrator David Barram and FSS commissioner Frank P. Pugliese said in a statement.

GSA officials tied the decision to a study by Logistics Management Institute of McLean, Va., and two consultants that showed the agency would save money and maintain current service levels by reducing the number of distribution centers.

The agency will form two new organizations within FSS: a Supply Business Line and a Business Planning Unit. Those organizations will be responsible for the transition, officials said.

The future of the warehouses has been at issue since GSA announced last summer that it planned to close all eight and to have agencies order goods from vendors via the Web.

The union, however, blocked the closure because GSA did not consult with it, as required before making its decision.

Harnage charged that keeping the New Jersey and California sites open is merely a reprieve. 'It is apparent that this decision is merely a two-phase shutdown with different time frames but the same result,' he wrote in a March 23 letter to Barram.

Harnage also said the decision was misguided. 'We realize GSA wants to be, but what GSA refuses to acknowledge is that the successful dot-coms providing goods are actually building warehouses to ensure customer satisfaction,' Harnage wrote.

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