Feds in control

Because most federal agencies buy wireless phones through the General Services Administration, the government seems to monitor the bills well.

GSA has a Telecommunications Wireless Store that has pre-awarded contracts with wireless providers for services from airtime deals to equipment. The agency uses the number of employees and minutes to come up with the most competitive deal, according to Annmarie Streff, the store's program manager. Federal employees can go to www. fedwireless.com to buy a wireless phone. Buying through the store gives them two benefits: They get discounts and they don't have to go out and bid on their own contracts, which takes a lot of time and money, Streff said. "The federal government has gotten extraordinarily great deals on landline communications services," said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc. in Jenkintown, Pa. "I wouldn't be surprised if they get these same great deals from cellular providers." Streff also attributed the federal government's success in keeping wireless phone bills low to new reporting tools that help agencies review their costs.

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