GSA pushes for budget merge

The General Services Administration is well on its way to reorganizing the agency, but Congress has still not approved merging the agency's general supply fund and information technology fund.

Barbara Shelton, acting commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said blending the two funds is the one aspect of the agency's makeover that must have legislative authorization.

GSA has already created FAS out of the old Federal Technology Service and Federal Supply Service. It has created several business units within FAS and hired leaders for them on an acting basis. But Shelton, speaking at Input's FedFocus 2006 conference, said it no longer makes sense to have separate funds for IT and other types of acquisitions, and blending the two accounts is an important component of the reorganization.

In other ways, she said, the reorganization is moving along. The current plan is to have 90 percent of the changes to GSA in place by September 2006.

"Whenever we find a piece of the [new] organization that we can implement immediately, we will implement it immediately," she added.

FSS historically focused on relationships with suppliers, while FTS was stronger in relationships with customers, she said. "What we need to make sure of is that those two things are brought together," she said.

GSA officials had become concerned that the agency was losing focus on acquisition, its core competency, she added. The reorganization plan is premised on restoring the central importance of acquisition within the agency.

It comes at a time when acquisition in general is under scrutiny, and the freedom afforded by procurement reforms of recent years is at risk, said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, in a separate presentation at the Input event.

Although there is more smoke than fire to some recent contracting controversies, Soloway said, there is more attention from Congress, the mainstream media and the public than before. But that's coupled with diminished understanding of the topic.

In the past, debates on Capitol Hill about procurement took place between people who understood the nuances of the issues, Soloway said. Now "we have more and more people touching procurement [questions] using information they don't fully understand."

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