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Procurement Conference of the Americas

As prepared for delivery.

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Procurement Conference of the Americas
Atlanta, Georgia.
11/1/05

 

Thank you, Emily (Murphy) for that kind introduction.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my very distinct pleasure -- on behalf of GSA and the Bush Administration -- to welcome you to the 2005 Procurement Conference of the Americas. I know many of you have traveled a long way to get here. Thank you -- your presence and participation clearly demonstrate your dedication and the importance you attach to the international trade and procurement issues that will be discussed during this important and timely event.

I’m certain you will find your journey was worth the effort. GSA Chief Acquisition Officer Emily Murphy and her team have assembled an impressive group of speakers who will share their expertise and take your questions on government procurement needs and processes in the Americas.

Upcoming workshops and lectures will feature public and private sector experts from many nations, including: Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia and the United States.

I would like to acknowledge the many dignitaries who are participating in the conference. That list includes:

  • Vice President Ana Vilma Albenez Escobar of El Salvador;
  • Colonel (Ret.) Robert C.I. Ryan, Vice-President of the Canadian Commercial Corporation;
  • Administrator Hector Barreto of the U.S. Small Business Administration;
  • Administrator Rob Burton of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy;
  • And Jim Lientz, the state of Georgia’s first Chief Operating Officer.

Thank you all for being here.

This conference is being held to discuss all aspects of government procurement, both domestically and throughout the Americas.

For those of you not familiar with GSA, the agency acts as a catalyst for nearly $66 billion in federal spending – more than one fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars.  In our policy role, GSA influences the management of federal assets valued at nearly $500 billion.  These assets include more than 8,300 government-owned buildings, an interagency fleet of 170,000 vehicles, a vast array of technology programs and products, and an expert workforce of just over 14,000 people.

The work we’re doing to “improve process” falls under a 15-month-old initiative known as the “Get it Right Plan for Excellence in Federal Acquisition.” The objective is to secure the best value for federal agencies and the American taxpayers through an efficient and effective acquisition process. This effort includes ensuring full and open competition, and instilling integrity and transparency in the use of GSA contracting vehicles.

Stepping back, this conference can also be viewed as a small part of the overall effort to expand trade among the nations of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean region. That effort is immensely important to President Bush, who, as you know, addressed the Organization of American States in June in Florida.

We at GSA share the president’s belief that free and fair trade is good for everyone. From the U.S. perspective, increased trade helps create more higher-paying jobs for American workers by opening new markets for products and services. Increased trade also brings lower prices and more choices to American consumers, and is an incentive for foreign companies to invest and hire in the United States.

The facts tell the story. Consider that:

  • U.S. exports accounted for about 25% of u.s. economic growth during the 1990s and supported about 12 million jobs;
  • Jobs in exporting plants pay wages that average up to 18% more than jobs in non-exporting plants;
  • Approximately one of every five factory jobs in the U.S. directly depends on trade;
  • American farmers export one in three acres of their crops, and exports generate nearly 25% of farmers' gross cash sales;
  • And, America's dynamic high-tech sector depends on exports. In 2003, exports of advanced technology products totaled $180 billion.

As the President has said:

The old and new democracies of the Americas share a common interest in showing every citizen of our hemisphere that freedom brings not just peace -- it brings a better life for themselves and their families.
Free and fair trade keeps us moving in the right direction.

And this conference will help in a very substantive way -- through nuts-and-bolts sessions on everything from electronic procurement to doing business in another country, and through networking opportunities that I’m certain will strengthen the strong ties that already exist between the Americas.

We are close in many ways, including one you may not know about. Back in Washington, GSA and the OAS are next-door neighbors.  From our side of 18th street, we are a stone’s throw from the red-brick OAS General Secretariat Building.

But it is more than proximity that connects us. We applaud the OAS commitment to democracy, and its work to promote good governance, strengthen human rights, foster peace and security, address problems caused by poverty .. And yes, to expand trade.

That includes an emphasis on smaller economies, just as our conference here this week includes sessions with public and private sector experts on contracting opportunities for small business owners.

Again, let me thank you for your attendance. All of you have important experiences and knowledge to share on your respective procurement systems. Whether your experience is from the government or private sector, the sharing of this specialized knowledge will help each of us improve our performance on the job.

Let me acknowledge:

  • Our co-sponsors –
    • The Organization of American States,
    • And the Canadian Commercial Corporation;
  • GSA’s federal agency partners:
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration,
    • The Department of Homeland Security,
    • The Department of Housing and Urban Development,
    • The Department of Defense,
    • The Environmental Protection Agency,
    • The Office of Management and Budget,
    • The U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard,
    • The U.S. Army – Defense Contracting and Field Support,
    • And U.S. Space and Missile Defense.

I would also like to thank:

  • The GSA industry partners who are represented today, including the Coalition for Government Procurement, and the Professional Services Council;
  • The private sector firms here to discuss lessons learned in their dealings with the government.
  • And again, the procurement officials from other governments around the Americas who have so graciously contributed their time and expertise.

All of us share the same goals: more markets for our goods, more jobs for our people, a higher standard of living and greater economic growth.

They are all goals worth pursuing.

It is my hope that you will use this conference to advance those goals, to strengthen old relationships, and to make new friends.

I think we’re off to a good start.

Thank you very much.