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Pursuant to a congressional request, the GAO determined whether the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has: (1) developed an overall telecommunications plan and policy; and (2) conducted studies, including cost/benefit analyses, on the impact of the American Telephone & Telegraph divestiture on government telecommunications operations. OMB is planning to permit agencies to acquire long-distance telecommunications service independently instead of using the centralized Federal Telecommunications System (FTS). The GAO also ascertained the effect that the OMB initiative would have on H.R. 2718 and S. 2433, proposals to create an Information Technology Fund (IT Fund).
The GAO found that, although OMB has made progress in carrying out its telecommunications responsibilities under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, it is not placing enough emphasis on the government-wide implications of its actions and the government-wide issues arising from the new telecommunications environment.
Regarding the proposed FTS initiative, the GAO believes that OMB may not be sufficiently considering: (1) the costs and benefits of the current FTS compared to a decentralized system; (2) the initiative's effect on the proposed IT Fund; and (3) the national security and staffing implications of a decentralized system.
The GAO also noted that the initiative's effect on the proposed legislation would make additional funds available to cover the cost of equipment and services for FTS by increasing the General Services Administration's flexibility in raising capital. The GAO concluded that the FTS initiative could result in reduced funding for the proposed IT fund.