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Administrator's Statement at News Briefing on "Can't Beat GSA Leasing"

GSA #9330

June 18, 1996
Contact: Hap Connors
(hap.connors@gsa.gov)

The following statement by acting Administrator David J. Barram was released today at a news briefing on the reinvention intiatives in the U.S. General Services Administration's Public Buildings Service, including "Can't Beat GSA Leasing," its new program to streamline federal leasing:


Today, we will update you on a very significant change in the way we do business in our Public Building Service. We want to talk with you about a new program we announced a few weeks ago called "Can't Beat GSA Leasing." We call it "Can't Beat GSA Leasing" because it is one element of an overall emphasis on being the best. You can't beat GSA. If you, as a customer, can, then we will have failed in our quest to thrill you.

What we will discuss today isn't an hastily created program. This is not your father's GSA. We are trying to base our work and our initiatives on evidence. Washington has often felt, to me, like an evidence-free zone. We'll try to play another way. This initiative, "Can't Beat GSA Leasing," is the culmination of almost three years of study and represents a major step forward for the 700-plus employees in the leasing division of PBS.

In a moment Bob Peck, our commissioner of PBS, will describe "Can't Beat GSA Leasing" for you. But first, I would like to share with you why I think this new program is so important for all of us at GSA. Can't Beat GSA is more than just a change in the way we do business. It is part of the continuum of change started when the National Performance Review said we should reinvent GSA into a more streamlined, customer-focused agency. It is one of the remaining steps we at GSA will take to ensure that all of our business lines approach our customers with the same care, concern, and professionalism. In many ways this initiative is a significant cultural change from the divisional stovepipes of the past. We are committed to being customer-focused and to knit ourselves into an integrated agency.

We are fortunate at GSA to have divisions like Federal Supply Service to serve as models for this new PBS effort. FSS has completely transformed itself into an organization that its customers choose. They are as good as, or better than, their commercial competitors. That's where we plan to get for all of GSA.

Several of our key managers are seated around the room including Thurman Davis, Deputy Administrator for GSA; Frank Pugliese, Commissioner of FSS; Martha Johnson, Chief of Staff; and, of course, Bob Peck, Commissioner of PBS. We are all here today, as a team, because we all support the new "Can't Beat GSA Leasing" program.

While we all endorse the new program, we know that this is not the final step toward the Presidents goal of making government work better and cost less. We recognize that we will have to continue working with Congress, the office of Management and Budget and our employee unions if we are to make lasting contributions to the Presidents promise. The shared effort of decision-making means our intergovernmental partnership -- as well as our labor-management and industry partnerships -- will have to be real because none of the changes we will talk about today will work if we cant communicate and develop a stronger culture of trust.

The plan you are about to see grew out of real evidence-based decision-making. To build such a sweeping program, we needed to understand GSAs core mission and be sure our activities were designed to fulfill that mission. To get there, we established, over a year ago, a thorough analysis of our business lines. We called this FORM or Federal Operations Review Model. It was an invaluable exercise which helped us understand our strengths and understand those areas where we needed to make improvements.

Among other things FORM taught us that we were better than we thought we were; FORM helped us realize that the work we have been doing measures well against the private sector and tells us we can compete in a competitive environment.

I believe that there is no limit to what good people can accomplish if they have good tools, the freedom to act, and a clear sense of what their organization is about. We have good people at GSA and we are about to give them the tools to take action in the most effective and streamlined leasing program we can build.

We will accomplish three things with the introduction of "Can't Beat GSA Leasing":

1. We will be as good at our mission and at providing customer service in PBS as we already are in FSS and FTS -- so good that our customers will brag about us.

2. We will be good because our people will be good. We will do everything we can to train our leasing specialists and provide good tools. In the best of worlds, our people will be so good that the private sector will covet them, and so challenged that they will resist.

3. We will prove to ourselves and others that real culture change can continue to happen in federal agencies. And when it does, the taxpayer and the federal employees will benefit.

We agreed that on July 4th, Independence Day, GSA will launch "Can't Beat GSA Leasing" to overhaul the $2.3 billion leasing program. Senior managers from other services and staff offices are firmly committed to helping PBS employees make this initiative a success.

Bob Peck will describe this new initiative and other initiatives going on in PBS and together we will answer your questions about how we arrived at this innovative program. Let me reiterate how proud I am to be here at GSA. There are many good things happening here in every part of our agency. All of us at GSA can share our pride in being part of some of the most exciting changes occurring in the Federal Government under this President.

One last comment as I introduce Bob. The older I get the more I understand the importance of good leadership. Good leadership takes ideas, insight, energy, strength of character and sensitivity. For my tastes, leaders also ought to take their work much more seriously than they take themselves. We are lucky to have Bob Peck as Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service.