FTS commissioner Bates to retire Feb. 11

Sandra N. Bates, commissioner of the Federal Technology Service, will retire Feb. 11 after a 35-year government career.

Bates said she plans to take some time off to spend with her family before deciding what to do next.

"It was time to retire," she said in an interview with PostNewsweek Tech Media. "I knew it was time for a new direction. I think we have strong leadership in FTS, and all the programs are poised to take off. We have turned the corner in all our business lines. So this was just a good time" to leave.

Bates announced her retirement in a letter to FTS employees.

"My career with the federal government has afforded me the opportunity to meet and to work with many wonderful people who have made important contributions as public servants," she noted in her letter. "We've faced lots of challenges together over the years, and we've accomplished important results for our customers through solutions that have brought the best of the commercial sector to bear in meeting government mission needs."

Bates has been honored numerous times over the past 35 years, including receiving the prestigious John J. Franke Award from the American Council for Technology. She spent two stints with GSA. She first worked in telecom at the agency between 1969 and 1979, returning to join the FTS team in 1996. Bates became FTS commissioner in 2000. Between her two tenures at GSA, she spent 16 years overseeing telecommunications projects at NASA.

At FTS, she manages 1,500 employees and $9 billion worth of telecomm and IT purchases. She has been under the microscope over the past year because of FTS' contracting problems, but Bates said that recent scrutiny played no part in her decision to retire.

Jim Williams is the FTS deputy commissioner, but neither Bates nor a General Services Administration spokeswoman would say whether he will become acting commissioner next month. Bates said the decision is up to GSA administrator Stephen Perry.

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