Feds: GSA reorg must yield real benefits

The reorganization will result in one accounting stream and one buying fund, said Barbara Shelton, acting commissioner of FTS, testifying at a hearing.

Zaid Hamid/Special to GCN

The General Services Administration's plan to reorganize the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services must go beyond the superficial merging of two organizations and improve overall value to agencies and industry, government and industry procurement experts said.

Although details of the reorganization are still thin, acquisition experts said certain issues must be addressed.

'I don't think it will make much difference if GSA doesn't change its culture and focus on quality contracting, streamline offerings, and get its service fees in line with some other governmentwide acquisition contracts and multiple award contracts,' said an agency procurement executive who requested anonymity.

Others said GSA must change how it makes its offerings available to agencies.

'One of the things we are working on is making sure the GWACs and schedules are structured in such a way that the agencies can buy total solutions off of them and not have to go to multiple contracts for different services,' said Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry trade association in Washington.

One Office of Management and Budget official said GSA must address the concerns the Government Accountability Office raised about whether GSA was obtaining the lowest pricing for its schedule contracts.

Baseline pricing

'We've asked the Services Acquisition Reform Panel to look at pricing,' the OMB official said. 'We know some contract folks use the schedule pricing as the baseline for off-schedule purchases, and it should not be used as a baseline.'

Soon enough, though, agencies and vendors will know the direction GSA is heading.

GSA administrator Stephen Perry said earlier this month at the hearing on the agency's reorganization that draft plans would be finished by May 31, and GSA would start implementing the strategy by July. The reorganization will result in one accounting stream and one buying fund, said Barbara Shelton, acting commissioner of FTS, who testified at the hearing.

GSA early this year set up a steering committee made up of 10 agency executives to oversee the merger of FSS and FTS, and three task forces with senior GSA managers and subject matter experts to set the scope of the agency's reorganization.

'Reorganizing GSA's operations should make it easier for vendors to do business with the government,' Government Reform spokesman Drew Crockett said. 'We believe that a unified management will lead to greater efficiencies by ending the artificial barrier between IT and other goods and services, allowing the seamless acquisition of solutions containing both IT and non-IT elements.'

OMB and some lawmakers are spearheading the effort for GSA to combine its Federal Supply and Federal Technology services to create a more centralized agency. They argue that the two separate buying organizations relying on separate operating funds no longer makes sense as it did two decades ago when IT investments were a fairly new event.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of Government Reform, will introduce legislation to codify the merging of the General Supply and IT funds.

Washington Technology staff writer Roseanne Gerin contributed to this article.

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