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FAS Commissioner Williams Addresses FedSources Breakfast

As prepared for delivery


Remarks by
Jim Williams
Commissioner
Federal Acquisition Service
FedSources Executive Breakfast
Mclean, VA
9/15/06

 

Thank you very much for that kind introduction.

I’d like to thank FedSources for inviting me to speak at today’s Executive Breakfast. It’s great to look out on the audience and see so many familiar faces.

This has been a somber week for most of us. We’re just four days past the commemoration of 9-11, and though everyone’s focused and back to business, the memory of the terrible attack on our nation still lingers. I think one way to honor those who perished and their families – as well as all the young Americans in harm’s way even as I speak – is to rededicate and recommit ourselves – with passion and perseverance -- to achieving our missions of service on behalf of our nation and all our citizens.

In GSA’s case, that means providing goods and services to our client agencies at best value. It means not only meeting, but anticipating, their needs. It means resolving their space, logistical and I-T issues so they can focus on their core missions, be it promoting international trade, exploring space, or fighting terrorism and securing our homeland.  I’ll remind you that there are 15 cabinet-level departments, 86 independent agencies, and a non-military workforce that stands today at about 2.7 million.

You may not realize it, but GSA acts as a catalyst for nearly $66 billion in federal spending—more than one-fourth of the government's total procurement dollars. GSA also influences the management of federal assets valued at nearly $500 billion. The assets include more than 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings and an interagency fleet of 170,000 vehicles, to name but two examples.

GSA’s unequivocal and enthusiastic commitment to helping our fellow agencies better serve the public is a return to the principles upon which GSA was created in 1949. Let me say very clearly -- this return to fundamentals will be the hallmark of administrator Lurita Doan’s GSA, and of Jim Williams’ Federal Acquisition Service.

There’s a Japanese proverb that goes:

Vision without action is a daydream;

Action without vision is a nightmare.

When you put the two together, though, Lurita and I– and probably all of you -- believe that very good things can happen. Her top goals are to:

  • Improve customer service.
  • Re-energize GSA’s entrepreneurial spirit.
  • And improve GSA’s financial performance.

When Lurita asked me to serve as Commissioner of the new federal acquisition service – F-A-S or “FAS” for short – it was with the understanding that this ambitious new organization would deliver:

  • Best value at best price through strategic sourcing,
  • Faster contracting services,
  • Greater efficiency and flexibility in procurement processes,
  • Lower transaction costs,
  • And smarter ways of doing business.

All of that translates to considerable benefits for GSA’s customers:
- A partnership with GSA acquisition professionals who have an in-depth understanding of clients’ needs and requirements.
-  A single portfolio for technology acquisitions, capable of meeting simple it needs or providing enterprise-wide solutions.
- A central source for obtaining cost savings and best value in commercial products and services.
- A single business unit for travel, motor vehicles, and card services.
- The assurance that all procurements comply with all applicable regulations and policies.
- And hands-on acquisition assistance nationwide through seven FAS zonal offices.

That’s the grand plan.

As business guru Peter Drucker said, though,

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.

So let me tell you about the hard work going on at FAS, beginning with:

Alliant

  • On track for a RFP release by October 2006.  Awards are planned for summer 2006.
  • Listened to industry concerns and the Alliant small business is designed to help GSA focus on achieving small business goals. 
  • We understand that excellent solutions come from business of all-sizes.  We’re working on the acquisition to prevent unnecessary barriers to competition for mid-sized businesses. 

Networx

  • Remains on-track for award in March 2007 and May 2007.
  • Networx transition summit was held on September 6 and 7, with 1,000 government and industry attendees. 

Customer relationships

  • In response to customer requests, GSA is trying to assign a single point of contact to work across GSA services, regions and programs to support some of our customers.  Thus far, we’ve set up this relationship with FEMA, Veterans Affairs, and DOD.  Our pocs are Amanda Fredrickson for FEMA, David Drabkin for DOD, and Bill Sherman for VA. 

FEMA

  • GSA is working with FEMA and Dee Lee to identify requirements and the need for acquisition support in a number of areas.
  • Interagency agreements and memoranda of understanding:  GSA and FEMA are working to establish multiple interagency agreements (IAAS) to clarify working relationships and establish roles and responsibilities.  The IAA between FEMA and Global Supply for trailer maintenance, deactivation, and group site management was signed and executed on August 31, 2006. 
  • Additionally, FAS is providing FEMA with year-end contracting support in areas such as I-T hardware, communication equipment, video teleconference equipment and satellite phones.

VA

  • Signed MOU between VA Secretary, Nichols and former GSA administrator Steve Perry on 9/2/2005 to help VA to achieve SDVOSB goals;
  • SDVOSB partnership – use and joint promotion of the new GWAC;
  • GSA advantage training for VA to purchase hardware and software;
  • Assisting VA with the development of acquisition strategies thru the use of schedules, GWACS and e-Tools;
  • Help the VA to explore GSA capability in reverse auction;
  • Provide VA with enterprise wide training on GSA e-Tools and effective use of schedules;
  • Working with VA to significantly increase the number of contracts available within VA’s virtual store (VA advantage);
  • Working with VA Alliant and Networx contract requirements;
  • An e-Tools working group has been established with GSA and VA's electronic commerce business solutions office (Michael Tyllas) to develop interoperability between VA's new acquisition system (ECMS) and GSA's e-tools (GSA advantage and e-Buy);
  • Conducted test purchase of ten computers through GSA advantage.  Still awaiting results from Gary Shaffer;
  • Conducted several work sessions between VA and FAS CIO to iron out reverse auction;
  • Assisting VA with acquisition of leasing 1,100 workstations.  Outcome will determine future leasing options

 DOD

  • Relationship with DOD;  GSA is working directly with Shay Assad, Director of Defense Procurement and Policy, to ensure that we understand DOD requirements and they understand the contract vehicles we manage (schedules, GWACS, telecom, etc) and the services we provide (fleet mgmt., City Pairs, Smartpay (card services), personal property mgmt, supply operations, etc..)
  • GSA plans to meet in the very near future with Shay Assad and his counterparts in the military departments, and the DOD Comptroller and the DOD IG to ensure that they understand what we have to offer and we understand what they need.

Schedules

1. Sales
Sales remain strong and healthy
Sales are up over 5% YTD over same time last year.

2.  Workload
We have processed over 4,000 offers and 20,000 modifications to far this year.
Offer processing time improved over FY 05.  

To address the continuing surge in schedules offers, we are taking the following steps to address workload

A.  We’ve detailed 11 employees in Kansas City to the I-T center.   They are acting as another division in the center.
     In addition, we are working to move additional contract specialists into the I-T center.

3.   New and improved
 
We’ve added HSPD support products and services to the I-T schedule as part of our support effort for HSPD-12.

4.  We are reengineering the entire schedules process - a full review of how we solicit, evaluate, award, and administer schedule contracts.
There are five fundamental aspects of schedule re-engineering
A  Transactional data:  our customers are looking for transactional data.   Under the strategic sourcing initiative – getting a handle on data is a priority for services.  We are currently working to identify the best way for FAS to capture and share this data.    Later this month, FAS will have some transactional reports available for purchases completed through our electronic systems. 

B.  e-Tools: 

In FY 2007, we will have the technical capability to receive offers under all solicitations through eOffer, and are working on appropriate timing to roll out this initiative.

In FY 2007, we’ll launch an sip alternative to make it easier for industry to list products and services on GSA Advantage and to keep the data current.

We are working with key customers to make their BPAS available on e-Buy and to punch out from out systems to their order writing system.
 For an example of how one of GSA’s e-Tools has been customized for customers’ use go to:  www.afadvantage.gov

C.  Pathway to success:   this industry education effort is our way to manage industry expectations of the schedules program - to recognize both the rewards and requirements of holding a GSA schedule contract.    This project is well underway - with a trial seminar held in NYC the week of Aug 24.  Results were very positive. We anticipate an on-line education course being available in early FY 07.

D.  Consistent operating practices across schedules: - to help more schedules evolve, FAS is sharpening its focus and moving to greater implementation of standard consistent processes across the program.  The new FAS Office of Acquisition Management is specifically focusing on improving standard operational procedures both in establishment of schedules and in FAS use of the schedule.   This effort will improve our face to industry, customers, and FAS employees, and will allow us to significantly improve our offer and modification processing time. 
     
E.  Broad-based schedules realignment:  43 schedules is too many.  It creates overlap and leaves gaps.  We’re working to identify appropriate solution sets so we can determine the right number of schedules to maintain.
We anticipate completing this effort in FY 07.
 
I’m going to stop there and give you a chance to ask some questions. In closing,  I hope that you’ll leave here remembering three things about GSA:

- First, all that I’ve described falls under our top priority – improved customer service.
- Two, we view the considerable challenges we face as opportunities.
- And three, I’m a huge believer in teamwork. I know that people who are focused on service, not self, can accomplish great things.  And we have those people at GSA.

Administrator Doan and I are optimistic about the future. We look forward to working with you.  And we will not rest until GSA is clearly recognized by all as the government’s premier acquisition agency.

Thank you very much.

 

 

 


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