Senate passes GSA reorganization bill

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11 a.m. Sept. 8, 2006. Please see Corrections & Clarifications to view what’s changed.

The General Services Administration passed a major hurdle in its reorganization effort today when the Senate approved a bill merging the Federal Supply Service and the Federal Technology Service into a new Federal Acquisition Service supported by a single Acquisition Services Fund.

GSA had already merged the services internally but needed the legislative authority to blend the General Supply and Information Technology funds. The House has already passed similar legislation.

GSA officials, stung in recent years by a series of revelations of employees failing to follow procurement rules, had believed one of the problems was that the system, including the separate funds, was a holdover from a time when IT purchases were usually very clearly separate from other kinds of acquisitions, a situation that no longer holds true.

“This action clears the way for the General Services Administration to complete its most significant reformation since its inception over 50 years ago,” said House Government Reform Committee Staff Director David Marin. The bill “brings the agency into the 21st century by streamlining its operations to provide a one-stop shop for customer agencies to buy goods and services and information technology together in a single acquisition.”

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) introduced the bill in 2005.

GSA Administrator Lurita Doan described Senate passage of the bill as “a very positive development,” adding, “it is another step toward a more streamlined government that improves GSA's services to our federal customers and, thus, the American people.”

“This new unified structure should more efficiently and effectively leverage federal buying power for IT solutions as government procurements of technology increasingly includes more than just the hardware and software of computing systems,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The committee hopes this new structure will be more responsive to agency customer needs and reduce GSA’s operational costs. GSA will also continue its “Get It Right” campaign that ensures that federal funds are being used appropriately, according to a committee statement.

Agency customer purchases encompass many office technology solutions and support services that go beyond the boundaries created by the old structure, Collins said.

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