GSA to study ideas for organizational changes

The General Services Administration's plan for reorganizing its operations is the latest chapter in its efforts to improve the way it does business.

In 2003, GSA swapped some functions between Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service after undergoing a review and receiving recommendations from Accenture LLP of New York.

David Bibb, GSA's deputy administrator, said concerns raised by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) about duplicative work within the agency were not the impetus for the recent moves to reorganize.

'We are aware of Davis' interest in the issue, but administrator Stephen Perry has constantly pushed GSA associates to do better,' Bibb said late last month at a luncheon in Washington sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council of Fairfax, Va.

But at least one industry expert considers GSA's move a step to take charge of the reorganization before Davis does.

'They are certainly doing this because of their oversight committee's desire to look at reorganization,' said Larry Allen, executive director for the Coalition for Government Procurement, a Washington trade association. 'They might take a prudent look at GSA as a whole anyway, but this allows GSA to take control of the timeline and process.'

Davis greeted the news of GSA's decision with optimism.

'It's good to see that we're all on the same sheet of music,' said Drew Crockett a committee spokesman. 'Chairman Davis is pleased that GSA is taking the initiative in reorganizing itself. The committee is continuing its efforts on the legislative front. This needs to be a collaborative effort,' and our work should be complementary.

GSA's decision to improve its operations follows a recent report by the Government Accountability Office that recognized governmentwide contract management as one of 25 high-risk areas in the federal government.

Davis said the agency's findings reinforce the need to take a look at the growing number of supply schedules.

'There are so many schedules out there, I'm nervous about the oversight and expertise they are receiving from contracting officers and agency procurement executives,' Davis said. 'As a whole, schedules are getting out of hand.'

Allen said Davis' interest was a positive sign for GSA.

'This is the good kind of pressure,' he said. 'Davis thinks highly of GSA and understands its importance.'

In a memo to agency employees, Perry called restructuring FSS and FTS a top priority.

The agency has set up four working groups that will study:

  • Organization of FSS' and FTS' regional offices and the marketing and promotion of both services' offerings

  • GSA financial management

  • The agency's IT processes

  • The IT and General Supply funds

The agency also plans a fifth working group that it will review as yet undetermined functions.

'There always will be regional offices, but there need to be clear lines of reporting and accountability to the commissioner, and I don't think that is a given right now,' Allen said. 'Administrator Perry does not believe GSA should spend a lot of time marketing and promoting themselves, and that needs to be addressed as well.'

GSA also may consider changes to the rules of governmentwide acquisition contracts. Allen said GSA is considering a wide-ranging non-IT services governmentwide acquisition contract that would incorporate the Management, Organizational and Business Improvement Services and the Professional Engineering Services schedules.

Along with the working groups, which began operation this month, Perry established a steering team to document the scope of work done by FTS and FSS and identify where the services can improve. Perry set July as the deadline to finish the reorganization strategy for FTS and FSS business lines and administrative functions.

'The timeline is not linear, meaning if we find things that need to be fixed in the first month, we will fix them,' Bibb said.

Bibb said GSA likely will bring in a contractor to help with the latest restructuring strategy. Allen added this would let GSA control the process and influence the analysis.

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