Letters to the Editor
Access regs good investment
The cost to the government to become more inclusive in providing better
access to services for persons with disabilities by adopting the proposed
Access Board recommendations for accessibility is minuscule, not extravagant
["Access regs too pricey?" FCW, April 3].
I was shocked to read the quotes attributed to a General Services Administration
IT professional. Not only are they cruel in their insinuation that disabled
persons are not worth the added investment in time and materials, they are
contrary to Clinton administration policy and federal law.
I am physically disabled, but I am not blind or have any vision impairments.
The reasonable accommodations that are granted to persons with disabilities
allow them, or us, to better function in society. Technology accommodations
mean increased independence for persons with disabilities. It gives us a
better chance to participate in government and make a contribution to our
country and to fellow citizens and residents.
Many able-bodied persons do not have a clue what it feels like to be
disabled. As the saying goes, "Walk a day in my shoes, and you will have
a different perspective."
A game that I use to demonstrate what it feels like to be physically disabled
uses suggestion and restriction. To demonstrate hand and wrist disabilities,
I make the participant use the weaker arm. To simulate visual impairments,
a blindfold or eye patch brings the disability home immediately.
The GSA IT professional quoted would not have made those comments if
[he] was disabled. Persons with disabilities want to enjoy life just as
much as able-bodied persons. (Even more maybe, because it is often harder
for us to accomplish things because we no longer have the luxuries that
able-bodied persons take for granted.)
Once the Access Board finalizes the accessibility standard, no federal
agency should be allowed to hide behind the "significant difficulty or expense"
door. However, that escape clause should be allowed for information that
is on World Wide Web sites prior to Aug. 7. It would send a great signal
to persons with disabilities that federal agencies believe in universal
inclusiveness if the information presently on federal Web sites was made
I would like to go on the record: As soon as I discover that a federal
agency refuses to adopt the Access Board accessibility standards, I will
fling a formal complaint to that agency's inspector general and the Access
Board as fast as my arthritic body will allow. Don't discriminate against
persons with disabilities for two reasons:
Federal Highway Administration
What's behind the fee?
After reading your editorial "Card fees a tough sell," and article,
"Purchase card fees pinch vendor profits" [FCW, March 27], I would like
to provide a few comments from the banking industry perspective.
There are some cases where a vendor will pay a fee of up to 5 percent.
However, the majority of merchant fees are less than 3 percent. The first
1.5 percent to 2 percent of the fee goes to the bank issuing the credit
card, with the remainder going to the bank owning the vendor relationship.
The associations (for example, Visa and MasterCard) establish the portion
of the fee that goes to the bank issuing the credit card. The bank owning
the vendor relationship takes this fee, adds in its own costs and determines
the total fee charged to the vendor.
In most cases, the bank owning the vendor relationship is not one of
the banks participating in the GSA credit card program. If a bank owns the
vendor relationship and the card to which the purchase was charged, the
transaction can be processed more efficiently. The savings created by this
efficiency can be passed onto the vendor in the form of a lower merchant
fee. An IT company that does a significant amount of government business
would benefit from contacting one or more of the banks participating in
the GSA credit card program regarding a more competitive merchant fee.
It's also important to clarify that the majority of these fees are to
cover the cost of funds and operating expenses, not the possibility of nonpayment
and fraud. To the extent a vendor does a significant amount of business
with the government, this has been factored into the fee.
Christopher L. Pieroth
Senior Vice President
More on e-filing support
I read with interest the article about the Internal Revenue Service's
e-filing ["Off the mark," FCW, March 20]. I just wanted to pass on my own
I've used TurboTax for 10 years, used 1040PC [filing] the first year
we could and have filed electronically for as long as the service has been
This year, my wife and I were two of the 18,000 taxpayers selected for
the entirely paperless, electronic signature filing trial. It worked exactly
as advertised. I filed no paper, used no postage and no physical signature
was required. And no, I'm not a PR consultant for the IRS, just a regular
taxpayer who works in the Defense Department.
The timeline I experienced follows:
* Wednesday, March 29, 8 a.m. EST: Filed electronically via Intuit's
service with software seamlessly integrated within TurboTax, and file is
"accepted" by IRS.
* Friday, April 7, 6 a.m. EST: Directly deposited IRS refund funds available
in my personal checking account.
I could not have asked for better service. These guys appear to be on
the right track.