FTS merging business systems

'The challenge in getting this done will be the soft stuff. The cultural issues and the training is where we will spend much of our time between now and early next fiscal year.'

'FTS' Christopher Wren

The Federal Technology Service is consolidating systems that agencies and vendors must interact with daily.

The General Services Administration's FTS will first merge four business data feeder systems into one megasystem that will establish a foundation to support FTS task orders.

Christopher Wren, chief technology officer for FTS' IT Solutions Shop, said FTS this fall will roll out the application, known as the 3rd Generation System.

After the launch, Wren's office will look for other areas to consolidate, such as systems that collect FTS 2001 and Metropolitan Area Acquisitions contract data.

'3GS is Round 1,' he said. 'We are trying to get the basics of 3GS implemented, the legacy systems shut off and look at any enhancements before moving ahead. But there are more areas of consolidation, and we need to figure out what makes the most sense.'

GSA awarded Unisys Corp. a seven-year, $36 million contract in August to implement and support a commercial application from SAP America Inc. of Newton Square, Pa. 3GS will replace FTS' Information Technology Solutions Shop Web system and Integrated Task Order Management System, which are used by agencies' regional federal offices, and the Task Order System and Online Management Information System, which are used nationally.

The new online system will provide a consistent experience for government and industry users to generate contract reports or project status statements, send payment requests or invoices, and track costs down to the line item, Wren said.

Using SAP's portal technology, 3GS will let industry users, agencies and FTS employees access their account information. Companies, for instance, will see task orders and potential opportunities as well as status reports.

Wren, who spoke last month at the 23rd annual Management of Change Conference sponsored by the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils in New Orleans, said one example of reports all three groups will have access to is the amount of funds being used by a certain project and how much money is left. He said agencies then can make decisions about whether to ask for more money, slow down work or finish a project.

'The challenge in getting this done will be the soft stuff,' Wren said. 'The cultural issues and the training is where we will spend much of our time between now and early next fiscal year.'

The back end of the portal will run SAP's R/3 4.6C enterprise resource planning system. FTS is outsourcing the hosting. Wren said GSA will award the contract in the next few weeks.

To standardize task order forms, Wren said, the new system will offer agency contracting officials multiple templates for each of the three types of contracting actions:
  • Commodity contracts

  • Simple services contracts, such as labor hour procurements

  • Complex service agreements, such as performance-based contracts.

  • 'There are a lot of templates in use right now on the local level, and we want to have a more uniform presentation of clauses and provisions,' Wren said.

    'The FTS project manager would start with the template and then customize it to the order. Most of the basic information would stay the same.'

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