How innovation draws techies to GSA

GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock) 

Technology modernization, including shared services, cloud adoption and resource consolidation, not only makes a more efficient agency, it also can help attract top IT talent.

"GSA is dependent on attracting world class IT talent. We've created an environment that's good for techies," said David Shive, CIO at the General Services Administration.

GSA has been on a journey to transform its internal human resources, financial operations and IT operations since 2014, said David Mader, chief strategy officer, civilian sector at Deloitte Consulting. That journey, he said, has made GSA a leading federal agency in moving to a services delivery model, exchanging siloed legacy systems for streamlined, focused, business-oriented cloud-based and shared services.

Mader and Shive joined Antonia Harris, GSA's chief human capital officer and Gerard Badorrek, GSA's chief financial officer to explain the agency's journey in a panel discussion at the Association of Government Accountants' National Leadership Training meeting in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27.

Shive told FCW in an interview following the panel that the agency has winnowed down 134 data centers to none. He qualified that zero by saying GSA has offloaded workloads to two data centers owned by another agency. It also eliminated 18 enterprise help desks with a unified cloud-based platform.

GSA's work to become a leader in cloud, agile development and shared services, as well as other forward leaning techniques helps it attract tech workers from their high-paying jobs at commercial companies to its 18F and Presidential Innovation Fellows programs.

That environment also helps keep talented workhorse IT staffers. Shive said the agency has transformed its hiring practices from months-long processing to agile hiring.

"If you can tell an IT worker they will be a cloud engineer instead of a backup" technician, "that they'll work in an app-rich environment, and will be building acquisition systems" similar to systems being developed by companies such as Google and Amazon, "it's compelling," he said.

GSA has also transformed its HR operations over the last few years, Harris said, through consolidation  across the agency's 11 regions, introducing new systems and processes. The HR department, she said, cut over a new system in June that combines three other systems and focuses on self-service for employees.

That streamlining, she said has cut hiring times from 88 days in 2014 to 70 days, she said.

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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