Supply execs plans 2005 changes

As the year winds down, leaders at the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service are anticipating changes they plan to make for 2005. Few of the moves would be dramatic, but several more subtle adjustments are intended to create greater efficiency and more accountability.

FSS commissioner Donna Bennett and Neal Fox, assistant commissioner of the Office of Commercial Acquisition, outlined their plans in separate presentations at the Coalition for Government Procurement's Fall Conference on Nov. 9 in Arlington, Va.

In the past, FSS's platform of schedule contracts and electronic tools has been good for customers buying either products or services. But times are changing, Bennett said.

"This is the era of integration," Bennett said. FSS officials need to give their customers tools to deal with the new environment, she said.

Officials will continue to look for ways to streamline the schedules, finding unneeded overlap or overlooked synergies that can be tapped for greater effectiveness, she said. Meanwhile, the agency's technical crew will add decision support tools to the online offerings to make them more useful.

FSS has long had a reputation of being "self-service," and Bennett said it is time for that to change. The agency's offerings should come with services to help customers make better use of the schedules, while not approaching the level of FSS's full-service companion, the Federal Technology Service.

"We need to be the folks who make the market work right," she said. "We have to start investing not just in the tools we have, but in people."

This year, an FSS staff member worked onsite at the U.S. Agency for International Development helping officials there learn how to use the schedules, she said. She wants to replicate that kind of service in the future.

Fox said that FSS officials have created a "virtual schedule" just for the Homeland Security department, pulling in elements from IT, furniture and office supplies schedules.

In 2005, Fox said, agency officials will be expanding the scope of online tools.

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