GSA moves IT policy offices from IT Service into new unit

After more than a decade of shaping the government's IRM
landscape, the General Services Administration's Information Technology Service is getting
out of the systems procurement policy-making business.


GSA Administrator Roger Johnson has drafted plans for incorporating ITS' policy
functions into a new Office of Governmentwide Planning, Policy and Leadership.


Johnson's reorganization will take effect Oct. 1. It follows the GSA streamlining plan
President Clinton advocated in his fiscal 1996 budget proposal.


The draft order calls for abolishing the Office of IT Policy and Leadership and the
Office of Acquisition Policy in ITS and moving their functions into separate units under
the new governmentwide office. A new associate administrator will head the office and
report to Johnson.


The Office of Governmentwide Planning, Policy and Leadership will have subsidiary
offices for IT, Acquisition Policy, Workplace Initiatives, Transportation and Personal
Property, and Real Property, plus the Regulatory Information Service Center and the
Federal Domestic Catalog Staff.


Responsibility for the Federal Procurement Data Center will move from ITS to the new
Office of Acquisition Policy.


Ida Ustad, associate administrator for the current Office of Acquisition Policy, said
the revamped management scheme is designed to leverage GSA's resources and promote
interagency initiatives, including the new IT Acquisition Review Board and Interagency
Management Committee.


"GSA's role is that of a facilitator to bring agencies together,' Ustad said.
"The office would make greater use of interagency teams. GSA would help grow and
develop these teams.'


Several government and industry sources said Ustad is on the short list of candidates
to head the new governmentwide office. But Ustad declined to comment on her job status and
said the reorganization and related personnel matters are still under review.


The new Office of IT will have a staff of 330, including Francis A. McDonough, now
deputy ITS commissioner in charge of the Office of IT Policy and Leadership.


McDonough said these organizational shifts, coupled with the elimination of ITS'
delegations program, signal the end of GSA's role as the government's central IRM policy
and procurement oversight authority. GSA last month raised the blanket delegation of
procurement authority level for all agencies to $100 million and will grant specific DPAs
only for projects worth more ['MDUL'GCN'MDNM', July 3, Page 1].


"GSA's ability to influence is diminished,' McDonough said this month at the
Federation of Government Information Processing Councils annual conference in Leesburg,
Va.


"At the agency level we have to move away from procurement reviews and add value,'
he said. "There will now be more authority for line managers, and the small buys will
be made easier.'


The changes will further deplete ITS' personnel and program ranks, but the service
still could have 1,500 employees. Once the reorganization and the transfer of the ITS
Multiple-Award Schedule program into the Federal Supply Service are completed, ITS will
consist of five offices: Current and Emerging Technology Implementation, GSA-Wide IT,
Information Security, IT Integration, which includes fee-for-service organizations such as
the Federal Computer Acquisition Center, and Resource Management.


The long-term future for these organizations is unclear. GSA is reviewing each shop
separately to determine which should remain and which are ripe for consolidation,
elimination or privatization.


The entire agency's future is still a bit murky. A number of House Republicans voted to
privatize most of GSA's operations when they adopted the fiscal 1996 House budget
resolution.


But for now neither the White House nor Congress has any plans for GSA's extinction.


"I don't think that GSA's abolishment will happen,' Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said at
the FGIPC conference. "Some members want to go for it. But when they understand and
look at the programs GSA manages, they see it is already highly privatized. It still bears
watching.'


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