Industry speaks, GSA listens

Four industry associations have formed a new coalition to formulate and provide advice for General Services Administration officials who are working to reorganize the agency.

The group, One GSA Coalition, includes representatives from the Coalition for Government Procurement, the Contract Services Association of America, the Professional Services Council and the Information Technology Association of America. Coalition participants include both officials who work for the associations and industry personnel drawn from the member companies.

Work is moving fast on creating a plan to reorganize the agency. Agency officials have written, and Office of Management and Budget officials have approved, legislation related to the restructuring, said GSA Administrator Stephen Perry. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) is likely to make the legislation part of the fiscal 2006 budget package, Perry said.

Meanwhile, an internal steering committee is developing a plan to restructure and likely merge two of the agency's three branches, the Federal Supply Service and the Federal Technology Service.

All four of the associations involved in the One GSA Coalition, and other industry officials, took part in an industry day meeting that GSA officials held at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. FSS Commissioner Donna Bennett and acting FTS Commissioner Barbara Shelton listened to the industry representatives and asked questions.

Although the advice was wide-ranging, common themes included the bringing industry into the planning process, providing consistent policy guidance to field personnel working out of regional offices, and keeping a focus on serving customers.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, suggested blending all of the services that vendors can offer through GSA contracts into one vehicle.

"It would make it easier for your customers to find the services they need," and make it easier for contractors to offer their services to all agencies, he said. As it stands, services are scattered over multiple vehicles. If officials at a given agency favor particular vehicles, vendors whose services are not available through those vehicles can be shut out.

Ted Buford, a program manager at CACI International and vice chairman of the GSA subcommittee at ITAA, urged GSA officials to get more outside advice. The reorganization steering committee is comprised solely of GSA personnel.

"We are still concerned that GSA is not seeking sufficient input from its agency customers and from industry partners," he said. Industry officials do not want to be brought in only at the end of the process and told what changes have been made, he said.

Shelton reminded the industry representatives attending the meeting that the steering team is expected to submit a draft plan by May 31.

"You may not see all of your suggestions in that first cut," she said. "We are under tremendous time constraints. But it is [only] the first cut."

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