GSA audit confirms misuse of funds

Employees at General Services Administration offices in three regions of the country misused 8(a) sole-source contracting authority, authorized work outside the scope of contracts and spent more than $133 million in funding earmarked for information technology inappropriately, according to a report released today from GSA's inspector general.

The report makes official information about contracting lapses in GSA Federal Technology Service client support centers, but agency officials revealed the problems last fall and have been working on taking corrective action since then, FTS Administrator Sandy Bates said.

She attributed the lapses to poorly trained associates who didn't understand contracting rules, poor management and oversight, and a few sales associates over-eager to boost sales numbers.

Irregularities first surfaced in a support center in Bremerton, Wash., GSA's Region 10. FTS discovered them internally, and brought the issues to the attention of the inspector general for investigation, Bates emphasized.

Further investigation revealed similar lapses at centers in Region 4, the Southeast, and Region 6, the Midwest.

The technology service group has hired Gartner Inc. to review FTS internal measures to ensure that they adequately reflect the business and provide useful information, Bates said. The agency also is giving more training to associates and providing them with tools, including a procurement checklist they use to ensure all the needed steps are followed. Additionally, service officials are having an outside consultant develop an action plan to strengthen the management structure, which will be completed by May, she said.

She declined to comment on whether personnel will be fired or disciplined, and said no criminal action is expected.

Deputy Administrator David Bibb also emphasized the agency's action in addressing the problem. He called the inspector general's report "troubling and disturbing" and said the issues it details are "totally inconsistent with the values of" GSA.

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