GSA realigns service groups

Accenture study

The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service will no longer manage governmentwide acquisition contracts, GSA announced last month.

The agency is shifting responsibility for developing and maintaining GWACs to the agency's Federal Supply Service as part of a reorganization aimed at reducing overlap between the two groups.

The move, which went into effect Jan. 12, "creates a process for addressing duplication in contracts," FSS Commissioner Donna Bennett said. "It will allow GSA to expand its presence in the marketplace."

GSA's ready-to-use deals are some of the most popular in government. Federal agencies place orders through schedule contracts and GWACs, which offer such information technology items as hardware, software and consulting advice from thousands of companies.

"Overall, I think that the changes that GSA came out with are very positive. They play to the strength of each service," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry group that represents more than 300 vendors.

A board will be established this month to assess the value and effectiveness of GSA's IT contracting vehicles. Right now, none has been eliminated, Bennett said.

"This is going to really be where the rubber meets the road," Allen said. "GSA put a needed framework in place to make hard decisions. I don't expect that to be a particularly easy process."

GSA based the reorganization on an Accenture study conducted last spring that found overlap between the agencies in IT-related sales, marketing and contract offerings.

"GSA essentially has the right mix of products and services necessary to serve federal customers," Accenture analysts wrote in an April report. However, "there are opportunities to improve service to customers and to address inefficiencies that increase costs for industry partners."

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) wanted another review before GSA moved forward, but called the proposal an important first step.

As chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, Davis said he "became concerned about the overlapping and possible redundant nature of the current structure of these services.... I will continue to follow closely the progress of GSA's quest to resolve its structural and management challenges."

"There's always a transition, and there will be some cultural changes," said Charles Self, FTS' deputy commissioner. "For the most part, the associates who are affected will continue to do the same work, just reporting to different" offices.


Managing gwacs

The General Services Administration has streamlined management of its governmentwide acquisition contracts. Some of GSA's popular GWACs include Millennia, Millennia Lite, Safeguard and Seat Management.

In fiscal 2001, the Federal Supply Service supplied agencies with $11 billion worth of information technology products and services. In the same period, the Federal Technology Service provided $6 billion for IT, telecommunications and information security services.


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