Davis treasures GSA telecom

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"F Street shuffle"

The Treasury Department's decision to forgo buying its telecommunications services through a homegrown contract vehicle in favor of the General Services Administration schedule has headed off potential damage to governmentwide contracting, said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).

Treasury officials announced last month that they had cancelled their Treasury Communications Enterprise contract vehicle and said they will instead use GSA-brokered services for wide-area network communication needs.

"Had Treasury been able to jump ship on this you would have had probably half a dozen agencies looking for a way to set up their own stovepipes as well," Davis said June 7 while speaking to reporters outside the Federal Acquisition Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Ensuring that federal agencies rely on GSA contracts for their telecom needs "helps our bargaining power overall. Everybody’s going to experience some deep discounts," Davis said.

On the topic of combining GSA's two contracting services, Davis said his legislative proposal and federal officials’ draft merger plan differ because they disagree on the role GSA’s regional offices play in acquisition. The House approved Davis’ bill May 24.

GSA Administrator Stephen Perry "thinks these [regions] have been hubs of change," Davis said. "We think that a lot of this needs to be done centrally and directed centrally on policy issues."

Modern telecom services have bridged the distance gap, making GSA's dispersal of its acquisition policy organizations obsolete, Davis added. Still, Davis predicted that he and Perry could broker a compromise satisfying to both of them. "Compromise is the essence of governance," Davis said.

Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, also discussed the civil service overhaul. An upcoming Bush administration proposal to reform the civil service will likely exclude expansion of the personnel reforms already under way by the Defense and Homeland Security departments, Davis said.

Davis and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), both greeted initial administration announcements about expanding civil service reform governmentwide with statements urging caution until the results of the DHS and DOD reforms can be determined. Until the administration can point to specific accomplishments from those departments' changes, selling personnel reform to the rest of the federal workforce will be hard, Davis said.

“On the other hand, there are some other common-sense reforms hopefully that most people can agree on -– hiring and firing and some of these things that need to be done,” he added.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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