Increased Federal Telecommunications System Use by Strengthened Control Over Commercial Toll Calls Could Reduce Costs

MASAD-82-4: Published: Oct 22, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 1981.

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GAO reported on commercial toll calls made by Federal employees through the Federal Telecommunications System's (FTS) switchboard locations. FTS was established in 1963 to satisfy voice, record, and data communications requirements of Federal civil agencies. The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for operating and managing the system. It is estimated that commercial toll calls will cost $22.9 million during fiscal year 1981. However, easy access to FTS makes it unnecessary to use commercial long-distance toll facilities to complete official calls. Based on nationwide data, GAO estimated that $10.2 million, or 44.5 percent, of the commercial toll costs will be incurred by Federal employees from FTS telephones, either intentionally or out of ignorance, when the calls could be placed over FTS at a nominal additional cost to the Government.

The GSA decentralized management of FTS has led to inconsistent application of technical methods to control commercial toll calls. Some GSA regional offices use technology to accomplish what persuasion has failed to do; intentionally dialed toll calls are either blocked or rerouted over the FTS network. However, other regional offices are hesitant to employ such methods, feeling that FTS is a service offered to Government agencies. In their opinion, these agencies are responsible for monitoring improper use of the system by its employees. GAO believes that a consistent nationwide program is needed to ensure the proper use of FTS.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should formulate and implement a commercial toll restriction program to electronically control commercial control calls by all regional offices. Such programs should be applied wherever and whenever economically and technically feasible.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration


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