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Collins-Smee leaving GSA

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A year into her job at the General Services Administration, Joanne Collins-Smee -- deputy commissioner of the agency’s Federal Acquisition Service, director of Technology Transformation Service and leader of the Centers of Excellence effort -- will leave for the private sector at the end of the month, the agency said on Aug. 2.

The announcement comes only days after the release of the second batch of solicitations for the agency’s CoE program, which Collins-Smee has shepherded since last September.

She will return to the private sector “for a new career opportunity,” according to GSA’s Aug. 2 announcement on the departure.

Over the past year, the former IBM executive has grown GSA’s CoE initiative from an idea to an operational program -- work that earned her a 2018 Federal 100 award. GSA said Collins-Smee has build the CoE effort into “one of the most highly regarded IT modernization initiatives in the federal government.”

She has also “implemented lasting and positive change in helping guide the seamless merger of TTS within FAS,” GSA officials said.

“Both FAS and TTS are in a stronger position today, and better positioned for future development, because of Joanne’s talent, work ethic, and passion for making government operate better for the American people,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy in the statement.

GSA spokeswoman Pam Dixon told FCW the agency has not announced an acting director to replace Collins-Smee. She also said GSA didn’t anticipate the departure will have any impact on the responses to the latest CoE solicitations.

Collins-Smee took the helm at FAS as acting director in December after an organizational shake-up that saw former Pixar executive Rob Cook move from TTS to GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy as chief innovation adviser.

In the last few months, GSA and FAS have seen other dramatic organizational changes as well. In June the White House, as part of a larger federal reorganization plan, proposed folding the Office of Personnel Management's retirement services, federal employees’ healthcare and insurance program and human resources solutions into a new entity that would also include existing offices at the GSA. GSA's Mary Davie was tapped to head up a task force to examine how those changes would be made.

Industry sources said it’s unclear if Collins-Smee’s departure is tied to those larger changes. As an outside hire, she may have been looking to set up the highly-visible CoE program, then depart with the experience on her resume, they said. Additionally, Collins-Smee was commuting to Washington every week from Connecticut, they noted, which is not only potentially exhausting, but could also mean she was not considering the position longer-term.

Despite the departure, Murphy said her agency “remains committed to completing the important work Joanne has begun at USDA, and to bringing the CoE model to other federal agencies.”

In the statement, Collins-Smee said she was honored to serve in the government and “pleased at the enormous progress that GSA has made in modernizing government IT in such a short time. ”

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, tele.com 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 mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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