Bibb: GSA: Evolving with the times

The agency is moving boldly into the future

The General Services Administration is on the threshold of a landmark reorganization that will enable the agency to adapt to a complex new business environment and position GSA to anticipate and meet the broad needs of agency clients.

GSA is streamlining agency acquisition procedures and capitalizing on advances in technology that will let it respond more quickly and effectively to federal customers’ changing needs for supplies, information technology and services.

Planning for this evolution officially began in 2005 with the announcement that GSA would create the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) by merging the former Federal Technology Service (FTS) and Federal Supply Service. The idea, however, had been germinating during a longer period of time. Recently, GSA filled in many details of the original plan and made them available to Congress and all GSA associates.

Our mission is to understand our clients’ needs so that we consistently deliver efficient, effective and compliant processes for customer agencies that need expert solutions. We will partner with our customers to save them time, provide the best value and free their resources so they can focus on their core missions.

Plans for FAS are moving forward under the capable leadership of Acting Commissioner Martin Wagner, who has served as GSA’s associate administrator for governmentwide policy since 1995. The design of the new FAS organization is a logical evolution for an agency that is highly motivated to stay competitive with commercial offerings and private-sector business practices. It will allow GSA to continue to fulfill its long-standing mission of helping other federal agencies better serve the public by providing strategic purchasing and acquisition support.

To this end, FAS has been designed to consolidate and facilitate previously separate functions, particularly in the area of IT procurement, and improve agency contracting procedures.

Change has always been part of GSA’s history because the agency has always been progressive. In 1993, two separate GSA services managed the government’s emerging technology needs — one for FTS 2000 and another for information resources management. That arrangement changed in 1996 when the two services became one — the Federal Telecommunications Service.

Another step in the evolutionary process occurred with a name change in 1997 that established the Federal Technology Service. That change also reflected the advancement of service offerings. GSA’s current evolution coincides with the experiences of many private companies facing significant changes in their industries. Under such circumstances, new vision and strategies are necessary for progress and even survival.

Staff adjustments are often a major strategic element of a turnaround plan. Those changes include possible hiring freezes, new acquisition expertise as necessary and even acceptance that some employees will choose to seek new opportunities rather than see this latest challenge through to completion.

The evolutionary process that has carried GSA through similar periods of adjustment in the past has seen the agency emerge stronger each time. Keep in mind that this period of changes, like others before it, was engineered to move the agency forward. GSA has a strong core on which to build. Success stories abound.

To address existing business challenges, GSA is successfully capitalizing on some challenging factors and transforming them into agents for substantive improvement and positive change. GSA expects numerous benefits from the FAS reorganization. It will allow the agency to:

  • Better apply the government’s volume buying power to provide best value at lowest cost.

  • Serve federal customers more effectively.

  • Provide more efficient procedures for vendors wanting to sell products and services to government agencies.

  • Ensure that customer agencies’ procurements comply with federal contracting regulations.

It is also important to note that although substantive change takes time, GSA’s Get It Right initiative has already yielded tangible, positive outcomes. GSA’s top-line goal is to reverse the trend of declining revenue and more firmly establish GSA as the federal community’s agency of choice when it comes to acquiring goods and services and fulfilling other workplace needs. To meet that goal, GSA must make improvements in timeliness, responsiveness and consistency.

From a business perspective, the new organizational structure is the right plan at the right time. GSA is evolving into an organization that will provide the greatest value and service in a fast-changing business climate. GSA is moving boldly into the future.

The reorganization gives GSA the potential to not only survive but also thrive in the 21st century.

Bibb is acting administrator of the General Services Administration.

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