Editorial: Right man, bad timing?

We wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorse the nomination of Jim Williams to be administrator of the General Services Administration. Former GSA Administrator Lurita Doan hired him to be the first commissioner of GSA’s Federal Technology Service, and nominating him for the top post is a masterful move on the Bush administration’s part. Williams is like a grown-up Boy Scout — somebody we trust to put the interests of the government above his own.

Some critics have implied that the federal community, in its enthusiastic response to the nomination, is over-hyping Williams. It’s true that Williams is not Superman — he will not be able to fix all of GSA’s problems single-handedly. However, we believe he is a knowledgeable, strong leader who is uniquely qualified to deal with GSA’s challenges in a proactive ways.

In recent years, we have urged GSA to move beyond its internal machinations and put its focus where it should be — on customers. Williams understands that, and we believe that his talents and skills can help GSA move beyond the battles that have defined the agency in recent years.

Our only concerns center on the timing of his nomination. With many lawmakers hitting the campaign trail, a timely Senate confirmation seems doubtful. And if Williams is confirmed, will he have enough time to accomplish anything before the Bush administration leaves office? We can only hope that the Senate moves as quickly as possible.

We also hope that a new administration will see Williams as a transitional figure in the truest sense of the word. If he is willing to stay, Williams would offer the new administration stability and a vision of what an organization that provides general services to government agencies could be.

Too often in recent years, we have seen people put in political positions who had little interest or expertise in government issues. Fresh insights and new ideas are important, but in too many cases, political appointees seemed ill-suited to their jobs. If the next administration is committed to change, one welcome development would be putting the right people into those roles.

We also must mention the retirement of David Bibb, who has served as GSA’s deputy administrator and done several tours as acting administrator. He is one of the government’s best and brightest. Through the years, he has provided GSA with the stability and insight that were sometimes missing in the corner office. He has always been a class act, and we are disappointed that he is leaving. We wish him all the best in his new ventures.

chart

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group