GSA makes performance progress

The General Services Administration's initiatives to measure its own performance should help it provide better service to federal agencies, but it will not be easy for the agency to put those measurements in place, according to the General Accounting Office.

Developing good measurement benchmarks are important first steps in fulfilling the recommendations posed by an independent study on the potential overlap between GSA's Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service, said David Cooper, director of acquisition and sourcing management at GAO, in a June 7 letter to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee.

Davis held a hearing on the subject of the overlap in April, several weeks before GSA released the Accenture study and its recommendations for improvement. One recommendation included merging FSS and FTS functions such as marketing and contract development.

In this follow-up letter, Cooper pointed out that it would not be easy for GSA to make any changes because it's hard to develop good measurement benchmarks and federal customers and vendor partners might be reluctant to respond to "additional reporting burdens" that will help shed light on how well the contracts are meeting their needs.

"But it is important for GSA to work through these issues in order to get the data it needs to assess whether FSS and FTS are delivering good quality and good prices to customers," Cooper wrote. "Once GSA has worked through these issues, GSA will be in a better position to assure itself that its program deliver value to the government."

However, GSA can't improve the entire federal contracting arena on its own, no matter how much it improves its own services, Cooper wrote. GSA's actions can play a role in any governmentwide improvement, but agencies rely on many different contracts and programs to acquire products and services.

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