The two General Services Administration officials with nationwide responsibility for the operation of GSA warehouses have been assigned to work for up to three months inside a Baltimore-area GSA warehouse where new office furniture has been left stacked for months or even years-crashed, run over, rained on through leaks in the roof, and forgotten.
The two officials, William B. Foote and Roger F. Carroll Jr., both assistant GSA commissioners making $47,500 a year, began work in the Middle River, Md., warehouse yesterday.
Foote and Carroll are responsible for developing methods to ensure that office furniture is stored properly. However, the action was also intended to demonstrste that GSA managers cannot evade responsibility for what goes on in their departments, sources said.
William P. Kelly Jr., who took over as commissioner of GSA's federal supply service on Monday, detailed Foote and Carroll to the warehouse after The Washington Post reported on Sunday what it found on a tour of the warehouse.
A reporter found that furniture had been crushed as boxes were piled on top of each other and that some furniture had been rained on or run over by forklift trucks. In addition, furniture made by Art Metal USA-Inc. years ago was stored in the facility even though the GSA has continued to buy furniture from the firm.
Kelly was given a mandate by GSA Administrator Jay Solomon to clean up his division. Kelly said yesterday he asked Foote, who is in charge of GSA's 20 warehouses, and Carroll, who is responsible for quality control, if they had known about conditions at the Middle River warehouse and what they had done about them.
"The answers I got did not satisfy me," he said in his office at Crystal City in Arlington.
Other sources said Kelly, who was once director of the Job Corp, reported to Solomon that Foote and Carroll took no responsibility for conditions at the warehouse, and had blamed others.
He reportedly told Solomon that the federal supply service, which spends 45 percent of GSA's money buying everything from calculators and television sets to metal desks and cars, is a "cesspool" where no one takes responsibility for anything.
Ten managers of GSA stores that home at 2211 30th St. NW to the Alex-provide federal workers with office supplies through the federal supply service have pleaded guilty to accepting television sets and cash in return for certifying that they received merchandise they had not received.
Previous Washington Post stores have reported that the supply service pays more for calculators, television sets, cameras, and other consumer items purchased in bulk quantities than customers of catalogue salws stores.
Kelly said he is reviewing the purchasing process to make it more efficient and introduce more competition.
"One of our most serious problems," he said, "is that we advertise our needs and should get maximum competition, but we get only one bid. I think it's because over the years, we've fine-tuned the specifications to the point where people can't bid....The specifications are so ornate and restrictive that no one wants to bid."
Kelly said he expects GSA employes under contract to GSA official was being interviewed, Kelly wrote to the contractor, E.I. Kane Inc. of Baltimore, that payments from GSA will be reduced "commensurate with the loss in performance" while the employe slept.