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FCW Insider: GSA's latest... Bibb retires, Williams nominated

We have been all over this GSA administrator... See previous posts... 06.19... 06.18... 06.17... 06.16... 06.13... we even made it the Buzz of the Week for the June 24 issue... and, of course, it all happens when I'm out of town on vacation, but... there are several big developments coming out of GSA today.

We have been all over this... See previous posts... 06.19... 06.18... 06.17... 06.16... 06.13... we even made it the Buzz of the Week for the June 24 issue... and, of course, it happens when I'm on vacation, but... there is a lot of news coming out of GSA today.

First was word that David Bibb, GSA's acting administrator, was retiring. (FCW's story here.) And then, a personnel announcement on the White House Web site announcing that Jim Williams, currently the commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, has been nominated to the post as GSA administrator. (FCW's breaking news item here... with ore to come as the team in DC gets more information.)

The President intends to nominate James A. Williams, of Virginia, to be Administrator of the General Services Administration. Mr. Williams currently serves as Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at the General Services Administration. Prior to this, he served as Director of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US - VISIT) Program at the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in his career, he served as Deputy Associate Commissioner for Program Management in the Business Systems Modernization Office at the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Williams received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MBA from The George Washington University.

Below you'll find Bibb's announcement to GSA staff.

There are a few lingering questions I have. As far as I understand it, Bibb is still acting until Williams is confirmed. So... is there some agreement with Congress that the Senate will expedite the confirmation process, particularly given that Williams is hardly a controversial selection. I can understand why Williams would want the job, even for only a few months. Although Williams is always honorable in my book, he would officially be the Hon. James A. Williams once he is confirmed.  And I don't know what this would mean for Williams' retirement. He is eligible for retirement late 2009. I doubt he would give all that up.

Still remaining questions, but at least we have a few answers.

And don't these things always happen when I'm supposed to be up here in New England vacationing!

Just a quick note about Bibb before I go back to my vacation... The official GSA press release on Bibb only says that he is going to "to pursue an opportunity in the real estate industry." They don't say what that is and... I haven't asked. I'm sure our team down in D.C. is working on it and they will have more new at FCW.com. Bibb told me that he has been in discussions about this new job since last fall and that the timing was dependent upon financing for the company getting completely lined up, which is just happening. That being said, Bibb retires September 1. One assumes that Williams will either be confirmed -- or named acting -- by then.

All of those details aside... I told Bibb this personally, but I'll say it publicly... The government is worse off with Bibb's retirement. He has been a class act at every step... right up to his announcement note, which I have posted below. I hope we can sit down for an "exit interview" before he goes off to his next adventure. I'll be fascinated about his thoughts about public service -- and the next generation of public servants.

As he says in his note, Bibb started at GSA in 1971 as a management intern. My, he has sure come a long way. As I noted in this week's Buzz of the Week, it had to have seemed like déjà vu all over again. After all, he was acting administrator late in the Clinton administration -- and he tells a great story about the tumultuous transition from Clinton to President-elect George W. Bush.

GSA plays an important role in presidential transitions. It controls the transition office. Space is already leased for that purpose. Even before the Electoral College gathers to officially declare a president-elect, GSA officials hand over keys to the new administration’s transition team office. In 2000, weeks after the November election, Bibb handed the keys to the transition team of the president-elect.

So Bibb doesn't have to play that role for the 2008 vote.

We hope that Williams gets confirmed. He too is a class act and the agency will be in good hands.

As always, I welcome your thoughts about what this means for GSA... speculation about what happened and why... post 'em here... or [email protected]. (Yes, I'm on vacation, but... I have my dreaded BlackBerry with me.)

As promised, the Bibb memo:


FROM: David L. Bibb
            Acting Administrator

SUBJECT:    Leaving GSA

I have long felt and frequently said that GSA’s workforce is its strongest asset. I have been proud to have worked with and among you since 1971, when I started out in Atlanta as a GSA management intern.

My experiences over the ensuing 36 years have convinced me that GSA is blessed with employees and leaders who are among the brightest, hard-working and dedicated in all of government.

It is thus with much regret that I today announce I will retire on September 1st.  I am leaving GSA to pursue an opportunity in the private sector, in the real estate industry.  Needless to say, I will deeply miss GSA and all of you.

Together, we have experienced enormous change over the past few years. Together, we have also turned a critical corner.  Based on continuing
business resurgence plus personal intuition built over more than three decades, I know GSA will retain its title as the government’s undisputed premier procurement agency.

Indeed, GSA may be positioned better than ever before to effect positive change in our nation, particularly with regard to the environment.
Likewise, our mission has not lost its luster. By providing goods, services and workspace at best value, we enable our client agencies to focus more clearly on their own core missions.

I will remain your biggest cheerleader. I am leaving, but my heart will always be with you and this tremendous organization.  As I have told the press, there is no better place to work – and no better people with whom to work – throughout the federal government.


David Bibb

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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