UPDATED: Senate committee OKs GSA modernization bill

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:10 p.m. May 2, 2006, with additional information.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today unanimously approved its version of a bill that would create one overarching fund within the General Services Administration by blending two separate funds. The approval brings the agency closer to revitalizing itself amid large challenges.

H.R. 2066, the General Services Administration Modernization Act, would create the Federal Acquisition Service Fund by merging the Information Technology Fund and the General Supply Fund.

“My hope is that we get it through the Senate very quickly,” committee Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said after the markup. “It would bring more efficiency to the system, and I think it makes a lot of sense."

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the committee’s top Democrat, described H.R. 2066 as a progressive bill. "It’s a good piece of reform legislation.”

The House passed a similar bill in May 2005. With today's action, the bill will go before the full Senate for debate. No date has been set.

“The vote today is another major milestone in GSA’s effort to establish the Federal Acquisition Service,” the GSA said in a statement. “With FAS, we will be in a better position to serve our customers so that they may focus on fulfilling their own missions, thereby delivering benefits to the American taxpayers on multiple levels.”

The GSA has been waiting for congressional action on the reorganization bill. The current two-fund system makes it cumbersome and difficult to do business, Marty Wagner, acting administrator of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, told an industry group April 26.

The agency has pushed for the reorganization because customers want a single solution instead of having to use multiple contracts to finish one project, Wagner said.

The Senate and House appropriations committees recently gave their approval to the GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, a merger of the Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service.

Today’s committee markup was uncontroversial. The bill passed in minutes without dissent. The committee approved two amendments to the House’s version of the bill. No senator objected.

Collins offered an amendment to the bill allowing up to seven regional executives in the Federal Acquisition Service, instead of five, which House bill would authorize. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) added a provision regarding employee retention bonuses.

“There is a lot of bipartisan consensus in favor of it,” Lieberman said about the bill. “So hopefully it will go sailing through the Senate, and we’ll actually get something done.”

Collins also said she has met privately with the GSA administrator designate, Lurita Doan.

“She has an impressive background as an entrepreneur. She brings a lot of enthusiasm, but obviously we’re at the very beginning of the nomination,” Collins said.

The committee will hold a hearing on Doan’s nomination in the next few weeks, Collins said.


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