UPDATED: GSA official looks to better times ahead

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct that Johnson said a draft RFP for Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 would be issued soon.

General Services Administration officials continue to insist that the agency has a good future, despite the troubles of the recent past and the ongoing chaos of reorganization.

“The future is bright for the GSA,” said John Johnson, who was just picked to lead the Integrated Technology Services division of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. He spoke today at luncheon hosted by the Northern Virginia chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a business group.

Johnson reiterated throughout his speech that GSA wants to hear from its customers and “obtain the value of your insight.” The agency's leaders want to keep abreast of industry trends and understand customers needs. Industry responses to draft requests for proposals is one example of communication Johnson cited.

Draft RFPs for Alliant and Alliant Small Business and Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 will be issued soon, Johnson said. Officials will take the feedback from customers ensuring that they and the GSA understand each other.

“We’re partners,” he told the industry group. “I want to put a capital ‘P’ on that partnership.”

Critics of the agency have said that after former administrator Steve Perry launched the Get It Right program, intended to put an end to misuse of contracting vehicles by some agency employees, the agency's emphasis has shifted to strict adherence to the fine details of contracts rather than meeting customer needs.

Some customers, notably the Defense Department, have taken significant parts of their business elsewhere. GSA has seen and felt the decline in its revenue numbers. As of January, fiscal 2006 revenue for the agency’s Information Technology Fund was 26.7 percent — or $597.5 million — less than the agency’s forecasted numbers, according to GSA regional revenue reports.

"DOD is a very important customer of ours," Johnson said today in respose to an audience question. GSA hopes to regain their business by showing the department its value, he said.

Johnson noted that the recent news has not been all bad. GSA’s Schedule 70 has had 5 percent revenue growth compared to last year, he said.

Johnson will take his position as GSA’s FAS acting assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services starting June 5. Jim Williams, who took the post in March, is retiring.

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