GSA completes acquisition service merger, once and for all

The Federal Acquisition Service has concluded its two-year march to becoming official.

The General Services Administration announced today it has cleared the final hurdle — negotiating with employee unions — that will make the merger of the Federal Technology Service and Federal Supply Service complete.

“Late last year, we committed to bringing FAS online as quickly as possible, and with the successful negotiations with the unions, we can now bring FAS online to our customer agencies and industry,” said Barney Brasseux, acting deputy commissioner of FAS. “With the implementation, we will provide greater focus, greater business flexibility, enhanced financial accountability and greater standardization within FAS and with industry.”

GSA came up with its reorganization strategy in August 2005 and initially opened for business in October 2006. GSA had to await congressional approval for some its decisions and received it last year.

While the agency set up offices, named managers and began operating the One Fund — a combination of the Information Technology Fund and the General Supply Fund — this fiscal year, most of the 4,100 employees still were considered employees of the legacy services. But with the union agreement, FAS can actually exist, said Ed O’Hare, assistant commissioner in FAS’ Office of Strategic Business Planning and Process Improvement.

“Until we finished negotiating with the unions, we couldn’t implement anything because managers couldn’t talk to employees as a part of FAS,” O’Hare said. “We will complete the human resource processing in our [human resources] system very soon, and that is the final step.”

Two unions, the National Federation of Federal Employees and the American Federation of Government Employees, represent about 50 percent of all FAS employees.

Jack Handley, NFFE’s GSA Council president, said the union was pleased with the outcome.

“I think we got what we need to protect employees as they go through transition,” he said. “We have a guarantee that there will be no reduction in forces, or downgrades or forced geographic moves of employees. The employees will continue to do the work they have been doing, and if they are asked to take on new duties, GSA will provide retraining and position classification.”

One key issue that GSA also agreed to was letting former FTS employees become eligible for performance bonuses. Handley said they previously were not eligible for individual bonuses.

GSA now will provide team or organizational bonuses of up to 2 percent of employees’ base salary for meeting or exceeding agreed-upon goals, O’Hare said.

“Every employee will have an interest in knowing their organization’s measures and in getting better,” O’Hare said. “Every business office has measures. They have completed their strategic plan and have plans to measure business objectives. There also are common measures for all GSA offices.”

Handley added that GSA agreed to be more aggressive in winning public/private competitions under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76.

The unions also will monitor the merger, Handley said.

“We will be meeting every two weeks over the next year or so to go over everything that is going on and to work out rough spots,” he said. “That is important because now we have an avenue of communications and an ongoing relationship with people with FAS.”

O’Hare’s office will oversee the merger, Brasseux said.

The ultimate goal with the FAS merger is to provide consistency across all GSA offices by streamlining the processes and ensuring all rules, regulations and processes are followed similarly, said Gary Feit, FAS’ Office of Customer Accounts and Research.

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