GSA plans to review acquisition manual, push EVM

As the General Services Administration closes out a hectic year, its acquisition shop is planning an even busier 2006.

The obvious first priority is the agency's still pending reorganization, Emily Murphy, GSA's chief acquisition officer, said at a briefing Wednesday sponsored by the Coalition for Government Procurement of Washington.

And while the agency's planned merger of the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services into the Federal Acquisition Service'and corresponding consolidation of the General Supply and IT fund'moves ahead, Murphy said her shop will tackle initiatives ranging from reviewing current acquisition regulations to program management, and workforce education.

A top priority for her office early next year, Murphy said, is to review the existing GSA Acquisition Manual, the reference book that contains most of the agency's acquisition rules and guidance.

Starting with a Federal Register notice, GSA plans to 'take a good hard look at the GSAM, what needs to be updated, where do we need changes, how do we make it a more useful tool for our workforce' and for GSA customers and government contractors, Murphy said.

Reviewing GSAM will 'not be a one-year effort,' she said. 'It's going to be a multiple-year effort. There's lots of work to be done.'

In particular, Murphy said the review will focus on making sure the manual has clear and consistent policies and 'gives the guidance everyone needs so we have a common set of ground rules.'

Additionally, Murphy said her shop plans to issue a follow-up acquisition letter to program and project managers on the implementation of earned-value management within GSA contracts.

In August, the acquisition office released a letter for contracting officers setting out timelines for adopting EVM in solicitations issued for IT systems, and the development and modernization of capital assets. According to the letter, all GSA solicitations for IT and capital asset management systems were to incorporate EVM procedures by this past October.

EVM is a process that measures the value of work on a project against its costs. In theory, it should allow project managers to track almost in real time money spent on a project and measure that cost against timelines and deadlines. The Office of Management and Budget has required all agencies to adopt an EVM plan for IT projects by the end of the year.

After the second letter is released, Murphy said, GSA plans to focus on training employees on EVM essentials.

'Our next step is making people aware of the training that's available through [the Federal Acquisition Institute],' she said after her speech. 'We're exploring how to bring training into GSA so that the program and project managers and contracting officers who are going to be asked to implement EVM have the necessary skills to do so.'

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