GSA moves ahead on reorg

The General Services Administration cleared its final major hurdle to enacting its reorganization plan earlier this week when President Bush signed the GSA Modernization Act into law. GSA Administrator Lurita Doan followed Bush's action by signing a new order enacting the plan, but she also made some significant changes to it.

Part of the reorganization involves doing away with the Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service -- and the individual funds they used -- and replacing them with the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), which draws from a single Acquisition Services Fund.

GSA's plan -- codified in a September 2005 order while Doan's predecessor, Stephen Perry, was administrator -- had long included a new national organizational structure for FAS made up of six zones, each including one or more of the current 11 regions. Doan's order puts a hold on that plan and specifies that FAS will operate using the existing regional structure. Doan will issue a second order within 30 days that will finalize the organizational structure of the FAS regional offices, said FAS Commissioner Jim Williams at a press briefing today.

However, Williams said, the agency may ultimately return to some version of the zone structure, after taking more time to develop long-term strategies. "We want to come up with the right answer," he said.

As technology has advanced, he said, some traditional assumptions about customer service have become outmoded. Providing high-quality customer service for detailed assisted acquisitions, for example, requires GSA workers to be geographically close to the customers. "But if you look at other things we do, like global supply [services], there may be other ways," he said. With a program such as SmartPay, the government purchase card program, "you may be able to do more remotely."

Turning 11 regions into any number of zones would just be a geographical regrouping, he said. Before GSA takes that step, he wants to be sure it's the best way to provide services.

Doan's order includes two other new provisions:

  • It establishes the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, formed by combining the Federal System Integration and Management Center and the Regional IT Solutions and Professional Services Office. Its purpose is to specialize in assisted service delivery.
  • It creates the Office of Strategic Business Planning and Process Improvement, which will consolidate the agency's strategic planning efforts into one office that reports directly to the FAS commissioner.

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