GSA gauges service value

A senior General Services Administration procurement executive said federal officials need to better quantify the value of professional services.

David Drabkin, GSA's deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy, said federal acquisition rules are mainly focused on products, but there are no processes and policies on administering services even though they constitute more than 60 percent of government acquisitions.

He said officials are trying to assess the usefulness of such services. "This is the value you got as a result of the services you bought," he explained at the nonprofit Coalition for Government Procurement's spring conference today in Washington, D.C.

He said they're trying to figure that out and eventually Congress will also be asking the same question since the federal government spent $180 billion on service contracts last year.

Drabkin asked conference attendees to e-mail him ideas. GSA is thinking about eventually posting an advanced notice of public rulemaking, he said.

He also talked about better corporate responsibility for government and commercial contracts. It's unacceptable for companies to perform well for the government and not for others, Drabkin said.

"You are responsible because you are a responsible company," he said. He suggested that companies should ensure they have an ethics program that is reviewed at least annually.

In other conference events, Tina Burnette, a deputy assistant commissioner at GSA's Federal Supply Services, said agency officials want to reorganize the information technology center because it has grown larger than anyone expected and wasn't evolving in the right direction. Areas marked for improvement include performance and efficiency, lines of communication and standardization, she said.

GSA officials may create a Pricing and Technology Division that will interact with other divisions and provide more information sharing, Burnette said. Branch chiefs will be established so fewer people will be report to each department head. They will also increase recruitment. She said the reorganization plan, which is still in its early stages, is kind of a guinea pig and will be applied to the other centers as it is established.

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