GSA sets timetable for procurement system

The General Services Administration will begin deploying a new back-office procurement management system by the end of January.

Christopher Wren, chief technology officer for GSA's Federal Technology Service, said GSA and contractor Unisys Corp. will finish testing the application, known as the 3rd Generation System, by early December and then will begin user training a few weeks later.

The first 3GS users will be FTS employees in regions 3 and 8. Region 3 covers Delaware, Maryland, southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Region 8 covers Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Eventually, all agencies who buy goods or services through FTS will use the system to get a more complete view of how they spend their money on technology products and services, Wren said today at a discussion sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council's Telecommunications and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts Shared Interest Groups.

"The level of detail about agency buying trends will be more granular," he said. "Currently, we have to do a lot of work to find that level of information, and most of it is after the fact. 3GS will allow agencies to track and report on information throughout the entire system."

FTS first will merge four business data feeder systems into one megasystem that will establish a foundation to support FTS task orders.

GSA awarded Unisys a seven-year, $36 million contract in August 2002 to implement and support a commercial application from SAP America Inc. of Newton Square, Pa.

3GS will replace FTS' IT Solutions Shop Web System and Integrated Task Order Management System, which are used by agencies' regional offices, and the Task Order System and Online Management Information System, which are used nationally.

FTS will implement the system in five more regions in April and the final four by June. GSA will offer Web training for industry and agency users and conduct classroom training for FTS employees, Wren said.

He said agencies and industry will be forced to change the way they do business. More agencies will take advantage of the online system instead of sending invoices or orders by fax or postal mail. And contractors will have to manage the solicitation process more closely because FTS is asking for a list of project managers, employees who are authorized to tender bids and employees who submit invoices to be the main contacts to FTS.

"Vendors will be more affected than agencies," Wren said.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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