GSA's Mary Davie urges 'doing things differently' in acquisition

Federal acquisition workers urged to collaborate, use new tools

Federal acquisition officials should be ready to do things differently, take some risks and use new tools such as social networks and wikis to help advance federal procurement goals, Mary Davie, an assistant commissioner at the General Services Administration, said at the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Summit.

“People may laugh at social media and say it’s just playing,” Davie, assistant commissioner for the GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, said at the summit on April 26. “But for me, with tools such as GovLoop, Twitter and LinkedIn, I connect with people with expertise that I otherwise would not have known.”

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GSA's Mary Davie urges more outreach, interaction with industry

With budget and political pressures on the federal acquisition workforce, Davie urged a conference room full of federal procurement executives to innovate to improve efficiency and to expand the ways in which they share information and expertise with each other. She encouraged them to seek help from GSA and other agencies with specialized expertise as well.

“People want to come together and talk, especially us acquisition types,” Davie said. “At GSA, we support a lot of different agencies. Yet we all have the same challenges and struggle with the same things.”

“We need to collaborate more, not just with industry, but with each other,” Davie said.

Davie commended the federal employees for doing “a fantastic job” under stressful conditions. At the same time, she encouraged the federal procurement staffers to innovate and “do things differently.”

“I believe in taking a little bit of risk and doing things differently," Davie said. "If we don’t start to do things differently, we are never going to advance."

As an example, she cited GSA’s recent experiment with a public procurement wiki for the Better Buy acquisition to seek open-ended comments from industry.

Davie also invited the procurement officials to consider making purchases through governmentwide acquisition vehicles available through agencies such as GSA, NASA, the Interior Department and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Smaller agencies struggling with IT procurements may find assisted acquisitions especially helpful, she said.

“There are contracts available for folks to use,” Davie said. “I would say, with the contracts available around government, we could solve 90 percent of our problems.”

1105 Media, FCW's owner, produced the summit.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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