Budget proposal would merge FSS, FTS

The Bush administration's proposed 2006 budget would perform major surgery on the General Services Administration by joining the two sides of the agency that deal with information technology supply into one organization.

The merger of the Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service would eliminate redundancies and make oversight easier, according to the budget document. The proposal would merge the General Supply Fund and the IT Fund into a single General Services Fund, and it would combine FSS and FTS into a single unit.

"Due to the evolution of how information technology is acquired — buying solutions that are a mix of IT and non-IT products and services, rather than separate acquisitions of IT and services — two separate Supply and Technology organizations are no longer needed," the budget document states. "Therefore, the Budget proposes breaking down these artificial boundaries by merging the two services into a Federal Supply and Technology Service. The result of this restructuring includes increasing organizational efficiencies, improving coordination by streamlining functions, and achieving savings for customer agencies by modifying fee structures."

GSA officials recently appointed a steering team to oversee reorganization efforts with the directive to develop a plan by July. The budget request reaffirms that July deadline.

GSA critics have argued that the agency needed to be restructured, and merging FSS and FTS has been one frequent suggestion. Consultant Bob Guerra, of Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates, is one such proponent.

"It makes sense to me," he said. "I've thought for a long time there should be some activity. I'm surprised they're doing it through the budget."

Having it in the budget document, however, means that it is essentially done, he said.

"What matters is, now that it's a fait accompli, do people understand it and move forward with it, or do they fight it." he said. "With it in the budget, you better not fight it."

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, also said a merger is necessary for GSA to continue to serve agencies well. He said that its presence in the budget is not surprising.

"The [presidential] administration has very few legislative tools available to it to make its policy desires known," he said. "The budget is the most comprehensive of those vehicles."

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