Shakeup at TTS as Murphy takes over GSA

Emily Murphy/GSA administrator designate 

Emily Murphy was sworn in as GSA administrator on Dec. 12.

The technology innovation shop at the General Services Administration is got a new leader on the eve of the new administrator's swearing in.

Rob Cook, the former Pixar executive and graphical software pioneer, is being moved from the leadership job at the Technology Transformation Services and the post of GSA deputy commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, according to an email sent after 6 p.m. on Dec 11 by FAS commissioner Alan Thomas. Cook has been asked to serve as the chief innovation adviser in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Joanne Collins Smee will step into the posts of acting director of TTS and deputy commissioner of FAS. Smee joined GSA in September from IBM.

In an email to staff obtained by FCW, Smee said that the job " is an honor that I was not expecting, but a privilege that I do not take lightly."

Smee told GSA staff that TTS will be "have a major role" in implementing the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 12, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

"Our team will be responsible to build centralized expertise, leading the effort to produce transformative changes government-wide," Smee said.

The shift, Thomas said in his email, "will better align FAS to support the administration's focus on innovation and modernization."

Additionally, Bill Zielinksi is taking the post of deputy assistant commissioner of the IT category at GSA, while Crystal Philcox will be director of IT services within the IT category. Philcox, said Thomas in his email, "will serve as a key external face to industry and be responsible for $14B+ in annual IT Services spending that flows through GSA contract vehicles."

FedScoop was first to report news of changes at TTS.

One GSA official noted that Cook came into the TTS job just before the 2016 elections, and occupied a role that was "for all intents and purposes" a political appointment. "It's obvious this administration would move him and elevate their own people," the official said.

The shakeup occurred the evening before the swearing in of Emily Murphy as GSA administrator. Murphy, a longtime acquisitions expert well known to the contracting community, worked at GSA as an adviser to the agency during the transition and the early days of the Trump administration, and worked on the merger that led to TTS being put under FAS.

Murphy also served as the agency's first chief acquisition officer during the George W. Bush administration. In that role, she helped transform the agency's assisted acquisition centers and consolidated the Federal Supply Services and the Federal Technology Service.

More recently, Murphy was policy director and senior counsel of the House Small Business Committee, serving three different committee chairmen.

In her inaugural remarks after the swearing-in ceremony at GSA headquarters, Murphy said shared services and network modernization, are high on her priority list going forward. Fixing GSA's "underlying systems will reduce barriers for entry for small and innovative contractors," she said. "It will reduce barriers to access for our customer agencies, allowing them to devote their resources to their missions."

According to Murphy, GSA's and the System for Award Management are among those tools that can provide additional transparency to customer and the public.

Murphy said she will also leverage the TTS merger with FAS to help streamline contracting, as well as improve use of governmentwide platforms and agile, user-centered design.

Murphy replaces Tim Horne, who has been serving as the agency’s acting administrator.

"We’re in good hands," Horne said of Murphy’s leadership during the ceremony.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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