GSA opposes employee's compensation bid

For the last five months the General Services Administration has been embroiled in a losing battle with a disgruntled employee who wants to be paid for devising a negotiating technique that he claims saved the government millions of dollars.

The employee contract specialist Salvatore Ales contends that he has not been rewarded for his contribution and instead has been systematically harassed and even physically affronted by management at GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service.

A GSA spokesman refused to comment on the case while it remains before an arbitrator at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

Ales told Federal Computer Week that the benchmarking techniques he identified were instrumental in the success of last year's recompetition between AT&T and Sprint which will save the government millions of dollars according to GSA estimates.

GSA suffered a setback in its defense earlier this month when the Federal Labor Relations Authority dismissed on a technicality the agency's appeal of an earlier decision. In April the arbitrator rejected GSA's contention that the agency had been using Ales' negotiating technique before he suggested it. The arbitrator recommended that Ales receive compensation under an agency program that provides monetary rewards to employees for their contributions.

The FMCS ruling supported Ales' assertion that he circulated a memo to GSA officials in 1992. That memo informed them that GSA employees negotiating with FTS 2000 contractors legally could demand that AT&T offer the government as good or better prices as the company offers its large corporate customers under custom-negotiated tariffs.

The ruling also quoted a memo by Ales' supervisor that said the suggestion resulted in savings of $7.9 million in the first year and that recommended an award of more than $1 million for Ales.

Politically Embarrassing?

Ales said the memo was ignored by his division director because she found it "politically embarrassing" that the agency had not been using Ales' negotiating methods all along. GSA did offer Ales an award of $250 which he rejected.

FTS commissioner Bob Woods said he was not at the agency when the dispute began but added that he does not believe Ales is entitled to a large reward. "GSA's view is that he was just doing his job " Woods said. "And there are many employees here who say he had nothing to do with those [savings]."

Despite GSA's arguments the arbitrator ruled that Ales is entitled to a reward because his suggestion resulted in a change in the way GSA negotiated with AT&T and brought significant savings.

Harassment Alleged

Ales said last week that he has been harassed by his managers since 1992. For example he said one manager attempted to pull him physically from his chair as he sat in a meeting with another GSA employee. He also said he had been disciplined repeatedly for minor infractions such as keeping a Slinky toy on his desk.

Woods said Ales' interpretation of these events is incorrect and that Ales is simply disgruntled because managers rejected his request to move to a different job within the organization.Another GSA source said Ales had been disciplined for playing with toys at his desk because he frequently disturbed his co-workers. He added that Ales has never filed any official complaints of physical or verbal harassment.

The arbitrator said GSA and Ales have 60 days to agree upon the amount of money Ales should receive and said he would resolve the matter if the parties were unable to agree before the deadline

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