Should GSA restructure FTS and FSS?

Should GSA restructure FTS and FSS?

A House panel is considering whether the General Services Administration should restructure its Federal Supply and Federal Technology services.

The two IT procurement shops overlap in the products and services they offer, according to a study by the General Accounting Office, but there is no consensus as to whether that is good or bad. Any decision on whether significant changes are needed in the way GSA does business will wait until a study by a private consultant is completed later this month.

GSA administrator Stephen Perry said implementing the consultant's recommendations would be a high priority.

David E. Cooper, GAO's director of acquisition and sourcing management, testified today before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy that more than 300 vendors have contracts with both FSS and FTS, and eight of the 10 largest government IT suppliers have overlapping contracts. FTS is the largest user of FSS schedule contracts. Some vendors and customers like the added competition, GAO found, but others feel it is overkill.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said GSA needs a better way to assess the success of FTS and FSS than 'simply measuring the revenue growth of the programs themselves.'

That could be difficult, Cooper said, noting that GSA is 'funded primarily through the fees they charge federal customers for placing orders on those contracts.'

Vendors and agency customers generally gave GSA high marks for its performance. Claudia S. Knott, executive director of logistics policy and acquisition management at the Defense Logistics Agency, said DLA spent $389 million with FSS in 2001 and $15.4 million with FTS. She said the agency was efficient and that she was not aware of any problems caused by overlapping contract vehicles.

Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement, an IT industry group, said GSA had done a good job of adapting to the rapidly changing procurement environment in the 1990s, but the agency needs to continue changing. The coalition's members want fewer contract vehicles, Allen said, although he couldn't say how many it wanted.

'The right number lies somewhere between one and the number we have now,' he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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