Rising Star: Tricia Reed: Passion compensates for lack of authority

Tricia Reed
General Services Administration

Firefighters battling wildfires on thousands of acres in California last year couldn’t readily find contracts for the specific supplies they needed. That’s when the General Services Administration stepped in.

GSA’s Disaster Recovery Purchasing program opened the thousands of multiple-award schedule contracts to state and local firefighters so they could get what they needed to handle the blazes.

“Just the fact that we’re able to link them with the myriad of vendors in their time of need is a fantastic feeling for all of us,” said Tricia Reed, the lead and national program expert for GSA’s Disaster Recovery Purchasing program.

Reed has taken a leadership role in expanding and coordinating efforts to allow state and local governments to access schedule contracts. She has weeded through a thousand policy details to open the contracts and has raised the profile of the programs to let state and local officials know the program is available to them.

“She just never gives up,” said Josh Sawislak, senior adviser to the GSA administrator.

Reed said helping people is one of the major reasons she joined the federal government “My mom and dad always taught me to take pride in what I do and do my part to make a difference and affect positive change in the world,” she said.

Reed’s role at GSA affords her the opportunity to help people make it through disasters, such as wildfires or hurricanes. Reed has traveled throughout the country to meet with customers and vendors and connect people to help with their disaster recovery efforts or even to prepare for the next emergency.
Reed took on this task with little help and even less authority.

“With no staff, she set herself out as the point of the spear within GSA for all state and local questions and became the go-to person,” Sawislak said.

“Managing without the actual title is always a challenge,” Reed said.

The purchasing program had no formal place in GSA and Reed worked tirelessly to find people who could focus on the state and local programs, Sawislak said.

As the leader of the Federal Acquisition Service’s state and local program team, Reed must work with employees who have other bosses and other priorities, too. But Reed said she hopes people recognize her enthusiasm and belief in the purchasing program’s effect on states and localities.

“If you don’t believe in it and feel passionate about it, you’re not doing as good of a job as you can,” Reed said. “I hope that [passion] can be somewhat contagious.”

Her enthusiasm might be spreading.

“I want her running the government when I’m old and relying on the government,” Sawislak said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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