FTS to form services centers

Officials at the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service will restructure the organization this fall in response to their concerns about the proliferation of contracts in the agency's 11 regional offices, many of which duplicate each other.

FTS Deputy Commissioner Sandy Bates said officials at the organization plan to designate specific regional offices or other FTS organizations as client support centers or solution development centers. For example, she said the agency's regional office in San Francisco has already been designated as the primary center for purchasing information technology services.

"It's a recognition that we don't need to have each region doing the same contracts," Bates said. "So no matter where customers are located, they will have access to all FTS products."

Charlie Self, FTS assistant commissioner for IT integration and leader of the group that planned the realignment, said it will radically alter the way FTS conducts business. "I believe it will have a profound effect on how we operate in FTS and will substantially change the way we work with the private sector," Self said.

Under the new organization, FTS contractors will be able to work with the appropriate center— such as San Francisco for IT services— rather than across multiple regional offices, as commonly happens now.

Bates said the changes should be "transparent" to agency users of FTS contracts who will continue to deal with the FTS offices operating in their regions. The regional offices will forward agency requirements to one of the centers, which will identify the appropriate vehicle.

Same Services Offered

Bates said FTS regions currently offer the same services under contracts such as the Federal Acquisition Services for Technology program and the Federal Information Systems Support Program. For example, a customer in Alabama who wanted to use these contracts would approach FTS' Region 4 offices, the headquarters of which are in Atlanta, she said. That customer would have no way of knowing that a solution developed in another FTS region would be better able to meet his needs.

"We don't want geographically dependent contracts," Bates said. "We are looking to maximize our resources, cut down on redundancy and streamline our operations."

Former FTS Commissioner Bob Woods, now president and chief operating officer at Federal Sources Inc., said it appears as though the FTS plan will address problems he confronted before he left the organization late last year.

"The trouble we had was that so many services were offered from so many places that customers couldn't figure out what we were doing," Woods said. "On the surface, this sounds good. It's part of their evolution to better customer service."

Bates said the San Francisco office was selected as the lead organization for IT services because of its impending acquisition of about $4.7 billion worth of IT support services under a program called Applications 'N' Support for Widely Diverse End-user Requirements. The region last month issued a solicitation for ANSWER, previously known as the worldwide Information Technology Support.

Bates said the only other designation made under the realignment so far has been the assignment of the Federal Computer Acquisition Center (Fedcac) to continue to act as FTS' contract management arm. In that regard, Fedcac is in the process of taking over management of governmentwide requirements for NASA's Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA contracts, she said.

FTS regional offices have submitted business case proposals to FTS headquarters "expressing their desire to be business development centers, Bates said. She said officials there will evaluate the submissions to determine which other FTS organizations will serve as leaders on each business line.

The realignment will be completed by Oct. 1, Bates said.

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