Letter: GSA's Jim Williams major career contributions not highlighted

A reader says Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Jim Williams implemented the merger of the Federal Technology Service and the Federal Supply Service among other great accomplishments.

Regarding "Williams nominated as GSA administrator": Jim Williams has done a great deal since he has been serving as the [Federal Acquisition Service] commissioner at [the General Services Administration], however, the repeated mention of a program management office for the GSA schedules is not the most significant accomplishment, nor has it actually been done yet. 

The fact that your article mentions that item more than once and mentions nothing else he has accomplished in FAS is an indication that your reporting is not well-balanced.  Your reporting in this article and others re: GSA may be too influenced by lobbying organizations that promote the interests of some private sector companies, instead of focusing on saving taxpayer money and promoting governmentwide value and benefits to mission accomplishments. I realize you have to court your advertisers but you could report many things Jim Williams has done rather than focusing on one thing that has yet to happen but is appealing to your advertisers as opposed to truly demonstrating Jim Williams' track record.

The major thing done by Jim Williams has been the actual implementation of the merger of FTS [Federal Technology Service] and FSS [Federal Supply Service] after more than two years of prior leaders who pulled internal and political maneuvers to drag feet and push personal agendas.  The org design that Jim Williams implemented after reviewing the Perry/Shelton plans for several months reflected his direction for the Federal Acquisition Service.

He endorsed the alignment of the GSA schedules according to content -- schedules for the purchase of similar products and services were grouped together organizationally -- similar to what most private sector companies do when they establish product lines.  This was a major change from the past that various industry partners disliked, and various current and former GSA officials disliked.

It meant that industry practices might have to change and might have to be more responsive to competitive pressures within an industry segment.  With more product-focused management, the government might be able to drive to lower prices, and the schedules might build on past success to evolve into even more innovative contract vehicles that were more responsive to customers and not just industry partners.

Current discussions of a PMO for the schedules is expected by many to be a fast march back to past practices that put consistency ahead of actions that might make the schedules more capable of meeting customer requirements, or might make the schedules easier for the customer to use for performance management contracts -- instead consistency did something to make the schedules a little easier for GSA to manage, but little else.

Jim Williams actually embraced the fundamental concept of being more customer-focused, rather than just responding to private-sector companies' desires.  He tried very hard to promote teamwork and collaboration among the FAS leadership.  But since there really were few new leaders, it was difficult to get the executives to abandon past habits and to get them to compromise to define a different and improved FAS way of doing things.

In his role as GSA administrator, let's hope he uses that authority to establish FAS leadership that will continue moving the new service forward instead of turning around to go back to obsolete past habits and practices.

Anonymous

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