GSA nominee faces biz decisions

General Services Administration

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GSAAuctions.gov

The General Services Administration will focus on better articulating its own performance measures while continuing to provide goods and services for sale — even in the face of competition from industry — Stephen Perry testified Thursday in his Senate confirmation hearing to become the agency's administrator.

GSA contains many performance-based organizations, which make enough money to cover their operating expenses by enabling the sale of products and services to other federal agencies. But GSA's own performance goals are lacking, and if the full Senate confirms him, Perry said he would implement specific performance measures for employees and programs.

"Our performance management process will be built on a foundation of shared GSA values along with clearly articulated goals and performance measures," Perry told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

This process should help the agency address concerns raised by the General Accounting Office and the GSA inspector general, Perry said.

Both offices have issued several reports citing management challenges at GSA that get in the way of full performance. This includes GSA's notation when reporting goals under the Government Performance and Results Act. More often than not, GSA simply says it is "working to improve," rather than listing the specific measures being taken, said Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee.

Another concern about GSA is that the agency is competing too much with the private sector, especially when it comes to online procurement and sales systems such as the GSAAuctions.gov site, where the agency sells excess property to the private sector.

GSA could outsource the operation of the site to industry, but because vendors only want to put profitable products up for sale, GSA would have to maintain a separate site for everything else that has to be sold. That would be even less efficient than the current situation, Perry said.

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