John Johnson picked for critical role at GSA

Agency veteran will take acting leadership role at GSA’s Integrated Technology Services

John Johnson, the General Services Administration’s assistant commissioner of service development and delivery, will also serve as the Federal Acquisition Service’s (FAS) acting assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services (ITS) starting June 5. Current acting commissioner Jim Williams, who took the post in March, will retire June 3.

Experts say Johnson fits the position well, especially with his record of GSA program successes. They hope he can bring that record with him to the new post as the agency continues to face financial turmoil.

Johnson came to the Federal Technology Service (FTS) in 2000 after working in telecommunications policy and oversight positions at the Defense Department. He leads the development of new network services programs while managing the FTS 2001/FTS Crossover contracts, several satellite service contracts and the Federal Wireless Program. He is also involved in developing the Networx, Alliant and Satcom II contract initiatives.

“John has been the hero at GSA,” said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting. Johnson has brought the government a great deal of value, Suss said, from delivering top-quality service to earning agencies’ confidence.

In a period of tight budgets, Johnson has led GSA programs that have evolved with technology, Suss said.

GSA considers ITS a response to rapid changes in technology. As part of the FAS business portfolio, it will provide a range of information technology, telecom programs and professional services, including direct and assisted procurements via governmentwide acquisition vehicles, GSA schedules and other government contracts.

FAS recently absorbed FTS and the Federal Supply Service with the approval of the House and Senate appropriations committees. On May 2, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee responded favorably to legislation authorizing an overall restructuring of GSA.

“It would bring more efficiency to the system, and I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the committee’s chairwoman. She made her comments after marking up H.R. 2066, the GSA Modernization Act. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) introduced that bill last year, and the House passed it in May 2005. Now the full Senate must vote on it.

Williams became acting commissioner in March after Deidre Lee left GSA for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Johnson “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this job,” wrote David Bibb, GSA’s acting administrator, in a May 9 e-mail announcement. “I know he will continue his high level of performance in managing the complex programs of ITS in this new role.”

Williams worked in the federal government for 32 years, nearly 20 of them at GSA. He was appointed deputy commissioner of FTS in July 2004. Before that, he served as acting deputy commissioner for nine months. He has held various posts at GSA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in several regional offices.

Observers consider Johnson the ideal choice to lead ITS during a critical time for the agency. “John has played the lead role in the one area to which GSA may still claim success — the national telecom program,” said Renee Courtland, a former government procurement official and now a senior associate at Dutko Government Markets.

She said Johnson understands that GSA increases its value to customers by using IT and telecom contract vehicles that incorporate federal enterprise architecture standards and information security management policies.

“By elevating John to this key leadership position, GSA is better positioned to overcome the damage done to FAS’ reputation as a result of improper assisted acquisition practices,” Courtland said.

Johnson through the years

General Services Administration officials chose John Johnson to be the new Federal Acquisition Service’s acting assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services. He will start the job June 5, after Jim Williams retires June 3.

The Johnson timeline:

  • 1979 — Selected for the Army’s communications specialist intern program.

  • 1989-1991 — Served as Defense Information Systems Agency liaison to the Commander-in-Chief Forces Command.

  • 1998 — Named Defense Department transition manager for FTS 2001, the major telecommunications contract that GSA awarded in 1998 and 1999. As transition manager, Johnson switched DOD services from the expiring FTS 2000 contract to FTS 2001.

  • September 2000 — Joined GSA as the Federal Technology Service’s assistant commissioner for service development.

  • January 2003 — Assumed responsibility for FTS’ Network Service Delivery organization.

Source: General Services Administration

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