Senate to hold GSA reorg bill until new administrator is confirmed

Sen. Tom Coburn says he's looking for a 'culture change' at GSA.

Stephen Perry's departure from the General Services Administration later this month will likely delay the merging of GSA's Federal Technology and Federal Supply services.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, will wait until the new administrator is confirmed before acting on the legislation that would approve the reorganization, a committee spokeswoman said.

'The senator would be interested in hearing the new administrator's views about it,' the spokeswoman said. The committee is not 'likely to move forward until then.'

Perry, who has been GSA administrator since May 31, 2001, announced his resignation from the agency earlier this month, effective Oct. 31.

Perry's departure means the legislation'HR 2066, which was sent to the Senate committee in May after the House approved it 'will continue to languish for the immediate future, and hold up several key pieces of the reorganization.

A key aspect of the bill is the merging of the General Supply Fund and Information Technology Fund into the Acquisition Services Fund.

Without this unification, experts have said GSA's reorganization will lose a lot of its impact.
Additionally, the bill reduces the number of organization-specific FSS administrators to no more than five.

Last month, Perry urged the Senate Committee to pass the legislation as GSA recovers from some accountability problems raised by internal auditors.

At a hearing late last month held by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security, Perry said approval of that legislation is key as the agency reinvents itself.

While Coburn said the reorganization is a priority, he is more concerned with GSA's ability to track its expenditures.

Coburn is looking for a 'culture change' in how GSA manages and tracks what it buys and how much it spends on goods and services, he said.

The system's shortfalls

Coburn promised more investigations and, possibly, legislation as GSA's Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation tracking system continues to come under fire.

But legislation may not be the cure for the procurement data tracking system, one industry official said.

While congressional oversight of GSA and procurement is essential, 'this is not something you can statutorily fix,' said Stan Soloway, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Professional Services Council.

Coburn's hearing came days after the Government Accountability Office re- leased a report describing the system's shortfalls.

'[W]e have concerns regarding whether the new system has achieved the intended improvements in the areas of timeliness and accuracy of data, as well as the ease of use and access to data,' auditors said.

The system also is plagued with usability and access to data issues, GAO said.

Testifying at the subcommittee hearing, Perry agreed with the GAO report and said there are limitations to the agency's tracking system.

In its response to the report, the agency said new software expected early next year should improve the tracking system.


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