GSA's Bibb defends reorganization

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"F Street shuffle"

A revamped General Services Administration would not shirk acquisition management, GSA Deputy Administrator David Bibb said today.

Under fire from legislators, the agency is consolidating its two acquisition services into a single

entity called the Federal Acquisition Service. Agency officials released a draft plan of the reorganization last week.

Under the proposed reorganization plan, acquisition functions would be divided into five areas, one of which is acquisition management. The head of that area would be a peer to the other officials heading customer relationship management, integrated technology services, general supplies and services, and travel and property disposal, Bibb said.

That peer relationship would not hinder oversight, Bibb said. "If the person is responsible for issuing the policy and providing the oversight, then that's their given task, and the other people will pay attention to it," he said while speaking to reporters outside the Federal Acquisition Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C.

The chief acquisition officer would remain separate from the merged acquisition service and would provide another layer of supervision, Bibb added. The agency is still feeing the effects from revelations in 2003 of the staff's long-term abuse of the contracting system.

Bibb said he could not further clarify how the draft plan's five proposed officials overseeing field activities would interact with the 11 regional administrators. Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.), criticized the plan last week for making that relationship unclear and for not centralizing control over the regions. Davis sponsored a House-approved bill that would also merge GSA's acquisition services. Any move to combine the two existing acquisition services' supply funds would require congressional approval.

"There will be conversation with Chairman Davis about the reporting relationships," Bibb said. "The plan that we put out didn't speak to the details to those reporting relationships."

Additional criticism from private-sector vendors that the customer relationship management team would be insufficiently staffed because it relies on "virtual" team members doesn't take GSA's culture into account, Bibb said.

"We do this now," he said. "There's also recognition that for the greater good of the organization, we all pitch in."

Business line managers will be able to justify assigning staff to the customer relationship team because that work also creates business opportunities, he added. "So there is an incentive not only just to help and be good citizens as part of the agency, but I think they’ll see it as way to help their business succeed, too," Bibb said.

The new structure should be up and running by the end of this fiscal year, Bibb said.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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