GSA needs to better manage its MAA program, GAO says

Government users are forgoing millions of dollars a month in savings due to delays in moving to competitive local telephone service contracts, and the General Services Administration should do a better job of managing the transition to its Metropolitan Area Acquisition program.

Those are the findings of a General Accounting Office study of delays in implementing MAA service.

GSA administrator Stephen A. Perry said his agency has begun efforts to implement GAO's recommendations.

The study was requested by the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy. GSA's Federal Technology Service began awarding MAA contracts with dramatically lower prices for local phone service in selected cities three years ago. It has awarded contracts in 23 cities. But only five of 19 cities supposed to have completed transition to the new contracts by March 1 have done so. Overall, only 52 percent of potential MAA users are receiving service under the contract. An estimated $1.1 million in potential savings are not being realized each month that the remaining 77,000 customers do not move to the new contracts.

Reasons for the delays include issues outside GSA control, such as disputes over ownership of and access to local equipment, as well as GSA failings such as inadequate staffing and oversight, GAO said.

GAO recommended that GSA establish new timelines for completing the transition, along with performance measures so that problems can be quickly identified. It also recommended that the agency fully disclose management fees it charges customers, which can range from 9 percent to 97 percent of carrier line charges.

Perry said new fee schedules would be fully disclosed beginning in October.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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