Bush nominates new GSA administrator

Doan would bring IT business background to troubled agency

Lurita Alexis Doan, a Virginia businesswoman, will become the next administrator of the General Services Administration if the Senate confirms her nomination.

Announced late last week, Doan’s nomination comes as GSA is struggling to regain lost customers, resolve internal organizational issues and ease rising wariness among agencies about its capabilities.

Doan is the founder and former owner of New Technology Management, a Virginia surveillance technology company. She sold her stake in 2005. If approved by the Senate, she will replace David Bibb, who has been GSA’s acting administrator since Stephen Perry left the job Oct. 31, 2005.

“With all that has been going on at GSA and in the federal procurement marketplace, having permanent leadership for GSA is essential,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council.

Industry leaders say Doan’s experience as a contractor in the government market and as a business leader should bring fresh thinking to GSA. Agency officials have said GSA is going through a tough transition as it adapts to its customers’ needs.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, said Doan’s background as a technology leader is better suited to GSA’s needs than a lawyer’s or contracts specialist’s would be. Even with that advantage, however, resurrecting the flagging agency is going to be difficult.

“I hope she has thick skin,” said Angela Styles, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget who is now an attorney in private practice.

GSA’s income from user fees has been declining in recent years, especially in the assisted procurement services arena. The Federal Technology Service’s information technology services revenue has fallen from $7.2 billion in fiscal 2004 to a projected $4.3 billion for fiscal 2006, a 40 percent drop. Its operations are self-funded through the user fees rather than appropriated funds.

To offset those declines, GSA is seeking permission to offer buyout and early-out packages to about 400 employees for an estimated savings of about $10 million this fiscal year.

Suss said Doan must stabilize the agency because it is at risk of losing much of its talent. GSA needs to win back customer confidence, he said. “Someone who has broad-based links into the agency customer set would be the ideal candidate.”

Other industry officials focused on her experience and the difficulty of the job. “Her experience could be what the agency needs. She does have a tall order in front of her,” said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Despite her business success, Doan is not well-known in the government IT community. Many acquisition experts said they had not heard of her before her name was announced. They based their assessment of her suitability for the job on older articles uncovered in Internet searches.

Doan founded New Technology Management in 1990 and was president and chief executive officer until selling to a group of investors in 2005. The company is on GSA Schedule 70, Millenia Lite and the Historically Underutilized Business Zone, according to GSA’s Web site.

According to a Jan. 29, 2004, New York Times article, New Technology Management’s business grew rapidly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, when it quickly became a leading supplier of security and surveillance equipment to the Army, Air Force, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and Homeland Security Department.

In an article in a 2003 Vassar College alumni magazine, Doan said she has workaholic tendencies. But, she added, “When you have me, you have my undivided attention; and when you have that, you have an amazing thing.”

Lurita Alexis DoanPresident Bush has nominated Lurita Alexis Doan to serve as administrator of the General Services Administration. Doan is not widely known in the federal acquisition community, but she successfully launched a start-up business in 1990 that is thriving today.

Family: She is a native of New Orleans and is one of four children born to a Creole mother and black father.

Education: She graduated with a degree in literature from Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1979. She earned a master’s degree in Renaissance literature from the University of Tennessee.

Experience: She founded New Technology Management in 1990, guiding its growth into a firm with $138 million in revenues.

GSA reorg plan gets House nodThe General Services Administration moved within one step of final approval for its reorganization plan last week.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.), approved the plan. A similar Senate subcommittee must still approve it, a GSA spokesman said.

GSA’s plan, which the agency’s constituents have given mixed reviews, would merge the Federal Supply Service and the Federal Technology Service into one organization— the Federal Acquisition Service.

The agency has moved forward while awaiting the approvals and appointment of acting leaders to many positions within the new organization.

The subcommittee reviews were mandated in the Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006.

GSA also wants to blend the General Supply Fund and the Information Technology Fund into a single pool of money. That move would require separate legislation, which Congress is now considering.

“We are very pleased that the House has granted us the approval to move ahead, and we have received encouraging signs from the Senate,” said David Bibb, acting GSA administrator, in a statement. “Final congressional approval will put us squarely on the path to strengthen our agency’s ability to compete in the changing marketplace.”

— Michael Hardy

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