Editorial: Is GSA worth saving?

There has been little good news from the General Services Administration in the past few years, but the numbers revealed in recent weeks are shocking.

The agency’s revenue for regional and national information technology solutions has decreased from a high of $7.2 million in fiscal 2004 to a projected low of $4.3 million by the end of fiscal 2006, which means that 40 percent of GSA’s IT solutions business will have disappeared in the past two years.

We understand that these numbers represent only one part of GSA’s business. Unfortunately, the agency so far has refused to provide all the numbers, which would reveal the full scope of the agency’s situation.

We understand that GSA has landed in this situation for a variety of reasons. The critical question, however, is what is GSA doing to fix the problems.

We remain concerned that GSA’s issues are flying below the radar of leaders in the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress.

To a certain degree, the procurement community has been operating in a vacuum, with no permanent administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, no permanent GSA administrator and no permanent administrator of the agency’s Federal Acquisition Service.

We have faith in the people acting in those positions — Robert Burton, David Bibb and Marty Wagner, respectively — and we hope that the lack of permanent appointees will allow them to get beyond the bureaucracy and make difficult but necessary decisions.

But this is also the time for a larger conversation about GSA. What role should the agency play in the procurement world? Beyond the questions about whether GSA can be saved, this is a good time to ask whether GSA should be saved.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.

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