FSS to use Internet as sales reporting tool

The General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service next year will turn to the Internet to smooth the process by which schedule vendors report their quarterly sales.

FSS requires schedule vendors to submit a quarterly sales report along with a check representing 1 percent of those sales. The fee is used to fund GSA's administration of the schedule program.

The fee affected information technology schedule holders for the first time this year as FSS acquired IT schedules such as A B/C and E last fall.

FSS now uses a paper-based process for collecting information. Vendors fill out "bubble cards" to record quarterly sales and send those cards with a check to a processing center. The center sends the sales data to FSS and the vendor fees to GSA's Kansas City Mo. financial center. FSS however plans to offer an Internet-based filing process as an option to the bubble cards.

Bill Gormley assistant commissioner of FSS' Office of Acquisition said the Internet option could be available by earlier next year. He said his organization is paying "more attention" to the filing process because the sales reports are linked to what vendors must pay FSS.

Industry observers said the Internet approach makes sense. Larry Allen executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement said most of his group's members would support the initiative if issues such as security and accuracy are adequately addressed. He said Internet-based filing has the potential to save time and reduce errors. With the bubble card method errors can occur in the scanning process or when the cards are filled out by vendors he said.

"It seems to be a reasonable use of an electronic medium " added Bob Dornan senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc. McLean Va. Dornan said he hopes the electronic method will "expedite" the process of reporting numbers.

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