GSA's Kempf: Acquisition services must be more user-friendly

As a priority, FAS needs to make work easier to help strained acquisition employees do their jobs better and speed up FAS’ ability to meet customers’ requests.

 Steve Kempf, the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, today said during the next 10 years FAS will become agencies’ first choice for purchasing because of easy-to-use tools and fast service.

To get there, agencies must see FAS as easy to use and not getting bogged down with confusing and dated Web systems, he said. Instead, FAS must meet customers’ service demands without hassles or long delays, said Kempf, who spoke at the Coalition for Government Procurement’s annual fall conference in McLean, Va.

Kempf is working to launch new Web tools for users, including eOffer and eMod, which enables companies to submit contract offers and contract modification requests to GSA online. Early in 2011, government customers will be able to use these tools to manage contracts online from start to finish.


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“That means eOffer and eMod will be the only way that we’ll be doing contracting with the schedules community” by March, Kempf said.

Businesses have turned to those tools more often in the past year. Kempf said 44 percent of contractors’ offers came through eOffer in 2010, compared to 27 percent in 2010. GSA has seen similar growth with eMod, which was used in 57 percent of contract modifications in 2010, compared to 19 percent in 2009.

Also, data has become very important in the era of transparency. Kempf said FAS needs to have data about sales and pricing readily available for customers, so they can see whether they’re getting the best deal for their money. With that data, agencies can justify what they spend on a product or service.

As a priority, FAS needs to make work easier to help strained acquisition employees do their jobs, which will speed up FAS’ ability to meet customers’ requests. Kempf said FAS needs to hire more acquisition workers quickly, and avoid the months-long hiring process.

“We can’t get work done when every seventh seat empty,” Kempf said. To boost the ranks of FAS’ workforce, he hired 200 people into the GSA’s acquisition workforce in three months this year.

Kempf also has plans for helping companies reach their government customers. He wants to get a business’ full assortment of services on a contract for government buyers to consider. He also wants FAS to do a better job of administering contracts, and end the current tedious and long process to make a change to a contract.

In his vision for FAS, Kempf wants more growth in business with the help of these changes.

“We have had 2 or 3 percent sales growth over the past several years,” he said. “It is time to think bigger and deliver bigger results.”

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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