Congressional microscope on FTS

Congressional microscope on FTS

Lawmakers plan to hold the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service's feet to the fire after a damning inspector general report last week.

GSA's IG found FTS client support centers in three regions breached federal procurement laws, failed to promote adequate competition and misused the IT Fund over the last two years.

After calling for a 'thorough housecleaning' earlier this week in a letter to GSA administrator Stephen Perry, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Finance Committee, plans to meet with Perry in the near future to discuss FTS problems, a Grassley staff member said.

Rep. Tom Davis, chairman of the Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing on FTS in February to explore whether further reorganization is needed, said David Marin, spokesman for the Virginia Republican. And Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee, will monitor GSA's oversight to ensure that violations do not recur.

GSA officials responded to this attention by reiterating their commitment to solve the problems.

'We will continue to take aggressive actions to remedy the problems that have been found and prevent future recurrences,' a GSA official said.

Grassley's staff member said the concern is whether the problem is agencywide or isolated to a few regions.

'We are going to monitor the inspector general's findings from other regions and go from there,' said the staff member, who asked not to be identified. 'We also will track GSA implementation of its plans to fix the problems. We want to ensure they are working and achieving the goal of accountability at FTS.'

The inspector general has begun examining sample procurements at the eight other GSA regions and expects the work to be finished by midsummer, said Eugene Waszily, GSA's director of audits for the IG office.

He added that Region 9, which includes Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, Saipan, Samoa, and the Pacific Trust Territories and the Far East, is farthest along, but he said he has yet to see a draft report.

Grassley's letter to Perry said that 'appearing contrite or saying 'mea culpa' will not be sufficient in this case.' The staff member said Grassley wants the FTS employees involved to be held accountable, and the punishment should be a deterrent to future abuses.

The staff member added it is too early to determine whether a hearing is necessary.

Meanwhile, the House Government Reform Committee's hearing will focus on FTS' newest governmentwide acquisition contracts, with Networx and Alliant. But, Marin added, Davis wants reassurance that there is a plan to fix the abuses.

'The committee needs to continue to evaluate the benefits of a more extensive agency/management reorganization at GSA this year, which could require legislation,' he said. 'Davis wants to explore the relationship between these instances of mismanagement and the underlying Federal Supply Service and FTS structural issues.'

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