GSA: Regional offices mismanaged FAST

High-level officials at the General Services Administration's Federal Telecommunications Service last month criticized the way some of their regional offices are handling the Federal Acquisition Services for Technology (FAST) program directing most of their criticism at the Kansas City Mo. office.

FTS commissioner Bob Woods said most of the 11 FTS regional offices have been losing money on FAST a program designed to quickly provide information technology services and products to federal agencies through GSA schedule contracts other governmentwide procurements or small-business contracts awarded by FAST program offices.

John Okay the deputy FTS commissioner called FAST "a sound program" but said regional mismanagement caused the program to lose $6.7 million as of August with $5.8 million of those losses in the Kansas City region.

Claude Garmon GSA's national FAST program manager said sales increases and greater use of vendor teaming late this fiscal year have revived the program to some extent. "It didn't turn out to be the kind of earth-shaking loss that was envisioned earlier in the program " Garmon said.

'Poor Accounting'

Woods who plans to retire this year to become president of Federal Sources Inc. a federal marketing and consulting firm in McLean Va. blamed the losses on poor accounting at Kansas City which heads the region where the program originated and other regions. He said personnel at those offices fell victim to "the booking-revenue problem " whereby sales representatives mistakenly assume they are making money before receiving payment.

He said Kansas City's sales have been highest among all the regions but the region also incurred the greatest expenses and priced services incorrectly. Therefore statements by Kansas City officials that the FAST program there was successful were based on erroneous information according to Woods.

"We think it's a good program but if it's any more successful I'll be bankrupt " he said.

A source at the Kansas City office argued that officials at FTS headquarters since 1995 have allowed FAST program personnel to book their sales as revenue even before payment was received. He said that policy remained in place until April.

The source added that sales have skyrocketed at the region in the last quarter - an assertion corroborated by Garmon and the region would make up for any losses incurred last fiscal year in the first few weeks of fiscal 1998.

The source also said the region has assigned employees to expedite the collection of revenue and was able to pull in $2.5 million from customers.

But he said he resented having to do a job that should be performed by GSA's Office of Finance. "I and my staff don't get paid for doing that kind of job " he said.

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