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Bibb Addresses Coalition for Government Procurement

As prepared for delivery


Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Coalition for Government Procurement Partnership Dinner
5/17/06

 

Thank you, Marty (Wagner), for that kind introduction, and for all the hard work you’re doing to make the new Federal Acquisition Service a reality.

And thanks to all of you for inviting me to be part of this year’s Coalition dinner.

We’re here tonight in part to celebrate the continuing partnership between industry and GSA, particularly the success of the GSA Multiple Award Schedules Program, which is on track for a record-setting year.

On that score, and given that we’re here in San Antonio, let me quote a Davey Crockett line from the most recent film version of the Alamo.

During the movie, Davey at one point looked into the camera and said, It’s amazing what a little harmony can do.

How true…

Here’s something else that happened while they were shooting the film.

A big battlefield scene was coming up … one of the extras grabbed a bag of Doritos right before he was called to the set ... Now everyone knows they didn’t have Doritos in 1836. So the actor shoved the bag into his costume and got ready to go out in a blaze of battlefield glory.

Of course when he fell, the Doritos bag slipped out, the camera caught it, and they had to re-shoot the whole scene.

There’s a lesson there, and it’s not about the danger of junk food. It’s about thinking ahead, paying attention to detail, and getting the job done right the first time.

Those are all hallmarks of the nationwide organization Marty and many others are helping to build in Crystal City and Willow Wood.

FAS, as you know, is a new organization being fashioned from a union of the Federal Technology and Federal Supply Services. The steps we’ve taken – in many cases with valuable input from the Coalition for Government Procurement – are designed to ensure that GSA remains a valued and vibrant part of the federal acquisition community, and the government’s premier acquisition agency.

The last time you and I met was at the Coalition’s Excellence in Partnership awards dinner in November. That was the night Steve Perry said goodbye. Little did we know our outgoing Administrator was going to trade one acronym for another, GSA for the NFL. If you haven’t heard, Steve is now president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. GSA for NFL? Seems like Steve did OK.

We’re not inducting any new hall of famers into our organization, but we are very hopeful of welcoming a new Administrator in the near future. President Bush has nominated a proven winner to take the reins at GSA. Lurita Doan is a great choice. She’s someone who started with very little and wound up with a thriving, multi-million dollar small business, in large part by working with GSA as one of our service providers. She is smart, she’s energetic, and she knows how to succeed.

And I’m sure she knows of the many milestones we’ve hit over the past several months. I’ll name just a few:

  • A key Senate panel approved the Acquisition Services Fund legislation.  We’re very pleased with the action taken by the committee and optimistic about receiving quick, final approval from the House and Senate.  The legislation is needed to legally combine the General Supply Fund and Information Technology (I-T) Fund, which will enable GSA to provide its customers with greater business flexibility for I-T, supply and service  solutions and improved money management.
  • The Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management have approved GSA's request for early-out/ buy-out authority for the FSS Office of Global Supply and the Federal Technology Service.   These authorities will help achieve staffing reductions needed due to a decline in revenues and workload in some areas.
  • And in April, we received final congressional approval to create FAS. If you remember, the plan was cleared by the Senate appropriations subcommittee with oversight for the agency. House appropriations leaders gave their approval on April 6. GSA delivered the plan to Congress on February 27, following a legislated requirement for review by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

What I’ve just described concerns the process.

Let me talk a minute about the substance.

GSA is establishing the Federal Acquisition Service to address a changing business environment and to position our agency to capitalize on new business opportunities.

Our value proposition states that by understanding our customers’ needs, we consistently deliver efficient, effective, and compliant processes for client agencies to obtain a collection of expert solutions from the simple to the complex.  

We’ll partner with our customers to save them time, provide best value, and free up agencies’ resources, thereby allowing them to focus on their core missions.

Our blueprint for change centers on the new organization.

FAS is built around five major customer centers:

  1. Customer Accounts and Research (CAR). Car will permit FAS to better understand customer requirements and become a strategic partner in helping agencies meet their requirements. This will heighten awareness of new business opportunities that were often lost in the FSS and FTS stovepipes. The new organization will also lead to more integrated customer strategic plans, CRM, and better vendor alliances.
  2. Acquisition Management. The FAS emphasis on acquisition management will ensure that its activities are fully compliant with laws, regulations and policies, and that operating practices are consistent across business lines.  It will also suggest new acquisition vehicles.
  3. Integrated Technology Services. This portfolio combines the business lines from information technology, some professional services, and telecommunications.
  4. General Supplies and Services. This portfolio acquires a broad range of commercial products as well as some professional services, as well as GSA-specialized, logistics-based activities. And,
  5. Travel, Motor, Vehicle, and Card Services. This portfolio operates with respective supplier industries but shares commonalities for customers that provide opportunities for synergy and scale.
     

As you can see, we’re clearing the hurdles, one by one. The finish line is still a ways off, but we know the end result will be worth the effort. When fully stood up, the Federal Acquisition Service will be a model of acquisition excellence, program expertise, and policy compliance.

It will benefit not only our client agencies, but the taxpayer by leveraging the government’s considerable buying power to lower costs. Clients will be proactively directed to the best products and services – to total, innovative solutions for all their workplace needs - at the best possible price.

Government history buffs already know this is exactly what President Truman and Congress intended when GSA was created in 1949. Our mission has always been straightforward. The problem has been a set of capricious variables –- like the sudden arrival of new technology that rewrites the marketplace playbook. Scientific advances can strike as quickly as lightning; bureaucracies, well … it’s more like rubbing two sticks together to start a fire.

That can be true in the private sector as well, by the way. Kodak got hurt by not responding quickly enough to the digital photography revolution.

During past periods of adjustment, some wrote us off. Some have nearly written us off this time. Let me tell you what I’ve been telling our folks.

President Bush has his management agenda, but he also has an American competitiveness initiative, basically a plan to encourage innovation and strengthen our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.

GSA also has a competitiveness initiative. It will do the same thing on a different scale. That is, it will encourage innovation and strengthen our agency’s ability to compete in a marketplace that has grown far more complicated and demanding over the decades. Our changes are intended to increase GSA’s value to our federal agency clients and the American taxpayer.

They say past is prologue, and I hope they’re right, because GSA has always emerged stronger after these periods of adjustment. We got through because of our can-do attitude, because we kept pushing forward, and because we had a solid foundation.

The foundation is just as solid today. I’ve mentioned the Schedules Program. I might have instead mentioned the Public Buildings Service, which is in excellent financial shape, and which continues, through our design excellence program, to produce legacy buildings that express the vision, leadership, and commitment of the government to serving the public and the values of the nation. PBS has also made GSA the only agency to get to green on the part of the President’s Management Agenda that addresses real property asset management.

I could have also mentioned a number of other success stories, like:

  • GSA’s 110 child care centers serve 7,727 children nationwide and routinely outperform private care.
  • Here’s another one you never hear about: new GSA-built federal buildings play tremendous role in revitalizing downtown areas. Examples include: Scranton, Pa., Camden, N.J., and Fort Myers, Fla..
  • Or I could have mentioned Firstgov.gov the award-winning official web portal of the U.S. government. Last year, Firstgov chalked up 179,000 public contacts. We recently launched a new search engine for Firstgov that increases the universe of official government documents that citizens can search from 8 million to 40 million, and it organizes the search like no other engine in existence.

So, while we’re striving to overcome our daily business challenges, we’re also breaking new ground in many areas that benefit our client agencies and the American people.

That’s the common thread – all that we do is intended to benefit our clients and, by extension, the public.

Throughout our reorganization, the goal for GSA and FAS has never changed. It will not change when the new Administrator arrives. We will still be focused on one thing: continuing to improve our organizational capability to efficiently and effectively deliver excellent acquisition services that provide best value for our federal agency customers and the American taxpayers.

Our job is to reverse trends of declining revenue where they exist, and to more firmly establish GSA as the federal community’s agency of choice when it comes to acquiring goods, services and other workplace needs.

I’ll tell you tonight that doing so will require improvements in timeliness, responsiveness and consistency.

I’ll also tell you we’re going to meet this challenge.

Thank you very much, and be sure to stay tuned.