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Doan to GovMark Council: GSA Anxious to Assist DOD

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
Lurita A. Doan
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
GovMark Council Luncheon
Falls Church, Virginia
June 28, 2007


Thank you, Steve (O’keefe); for that kind introduction.

Good morning, everyone; thank you for asking me to stop by. Your theme today is marketing to the military, a subject that’s always on our minds at GSA. DoD and the Federal Judiciary are our biggest customers, and I’m pleased that relations with these clients have improved significantly over the past year. GSA / FAS revenue from DoD topped $5 billion in fiscal 2006. That’s real money even by Washington standards!

What do we sell DoD? Here are some fun facts.  In fiscal 06, GSA Global Supply sold DoD, among other items:

  • five million reams of copier paper;
  • 245 tons of compressed air for cleaning keyboards and computers;
  • and 605,000 miles of toilet paper. You can make your own joke; I’ll just point out that 605,000 miles is roughly two-and-a-half trips to the moon!

One of my top priorities when I came in as Administrator 13 months ago was to repair and rebuild our relationships with all our customer agencies. I think it’s fair to say we’ve begun a new era of cooperation and mutual respect. As in any damaged relationship, though, winning back lost trust and faith was not easy. What was it Shakespeare said? Love all; trust a few.

Comprehensive internal controls, revamped accounting processes and improved training have corrected a lot of the past deficiencies at GSA. So, too, did the realization that at the end of the day, a robust relationship between GSA and DoD produces countless benefits for the American taxpayer.

The other big change at GSA is something you’ve all heard about – a merger of the legacy FTA and FSS organizations and the creation of the new Federal Acquisition Service. Commissioner Jim Williams and his team have done yeoman’s work getting FAS up and running – all while keeping pace with a striking number of new initiatives – Networx, HSPD-12 Smartpay – not to mention that this summer I’ll be speaking at our Fedfleet conference – did you know GSA automotive recently hit a new sales record? As of May 31, orders for nearly 65,000 vehicles were processed at a value of $1.3 billion.

Again, this record of achievement is growing as we are completing the most significant reorganization in the history of GSA. That’s like cooking gourmet meals while they’re remodeling the kitchen.

Let me bring you up to speed:

  • All legacy FSS and FTS employees became part of FAS on May 13, 2007;
  • The implementation plan is progressing on schedule.  The plan addresses all the key organizational elements: people, process, technology, infrastructure and governance, and focuses more specifically on:
  • Human capital planning, critical processes analysis, I-T systems, infrastructure and administrative items, and governance structures.
  • FAS will continue to refine the process to ensure that we meet our objectives, namely: simplified processes to enable suppliers -- large and small -- to compete for government business, and better service for our customers through a leaner, more efficient organization.

GSA has a special responsibility to ensure that taxpayers get the best deal for their tax dollars, but that’s more complicated than just the lowest apparent price for the widget.  We look for best value and that requires a dialog with our industry partners.  One way we’ve found to add value is to open the schedules program to state and local governments where appropriate.  To this end, we’re increasing our outreach to state and locals on our existing programs for cooperative purchasing, counter drug operations, and disaster recovery purchasing.  We’re also revisiting the policy that prohibits state and local governments from accessing the schedules when spending federal grant funds. 

That – and the fact that we’re now three weeks into hurricane season – lead me to our newest program for state and locals, the disaster recovery purchasing program.  This program allows state and local governments access to all of our schedules for purchases to be used to recover from a major disaster or act or terrorism.  As we know, it’s the first few hours and days that count most after a disaster. We’ve set up this program to allow states and locals to purchase in advance of the disaster if the purpose of the buy is recovery-related. 

Another of my priorities as Administrator has been to reduce the time and simplify the process of getting on schedule. We unveiled the MAS Express program last January 16th. The goal is to award MAS Contracts to eligible firms in 30 days. To hit our target, significant changes to existing processes were designed to improve offer quality, productivity, and the alignment of GSA services to meet federal customer needs.

There are obvious benefits to potential industry partners, and there are also benefits to our existing contractors and customers. By refining and accelerating the offer review process, our customer agencies will enjoy quicker access to state-of-the-art goods and services and quality industry partners. This permits a greater focus on high value and contracts that will ultimately result in increased savings to American citizens.

Since its inception, the MAS Express program has achieved its objective of accelerating and streamlining the offer review process (and will continue to reduce the time to award in subsequent phases of the program). Enhancements developed for phase II will be introduced shortly. This will include expansion of schedules participating and the introduction of electronic offer submission and review via e-Offer.

MAS Express is one of several achievements that make me very proud. Restoring our clean audit is another, as is the vets GWAC, through which we awarded, in March, an I-T infrastructure contract to an 8a, service-disabled vet-owned firm based in Bethesda, Maryland.

But that’s in the past and now’s no time for reminiscing. There’s a lot to accomplish and unfortunately time is already beginning to feel short. My greatest remaining challenge is to create a much healthier work environment for our procurement professionals.  It is my belief that the contracting officers and procurement specialists are performing one of the most difficult jobs in government today.  They do not get much credit and their achievements are poorly recognized or understood.   I am determined to change those perceptions. 

We are also preparing a strategic plan that will guide GSA long after I have departed. For an agency located in a building that went up in 1917  --- Interior was the first occupant at 18th and F --- there’s a new feel to good old GSA. We have re-thought our identity, and in many cases nudged a little closer to the original mission Harry Truman envisioned when he signed the bill creating GSA in 1949. In other cases, we’ve modernized, adapting to the changing needs of our customers and a volatile marketplace. Everyone should remember that GSA is the only federal agency whose sole purpose is to help the government acquire the goods, services and workspace it needs to run at peak efficiency. When we do our job right, it frees all the other agencies to concentrate on their core missions, be it Defense, Agriculture or Transportation.

Guided by a new customer-focused strategic plan and updated mission statement, GSA will not only meet, but anticipate client needs and provide total workplace solutions. Our entrepreneurial spirit is back; creative juices are flowing; there’s a bounce in our step.

It’s easy to overlook the breadth of GSA’s work. we are:

  • The steward of 425 historic properties;
  • The manager of more than 110 child care centers;
  • A potent advocate for small businesses;
  • A leading provider of telecommunications services;
  • Manager of the government’s official web portal;
  • A critical player in disaster recovery operations;
  • An important advocate and supplier of environment-friendly goods and services;
  • A major proponent and facilitator of telework;
  • And one of the top 10 federal workplaces;

Four traditional values unite our organization and guide all that we do:

  • integrity;
  • accountability and transparency;
  • effective leadership;
  • and responsible decision-making.

Transformational change takes effort, resolve and strength. I think you saw all three on display this past year; I think you’ll see all three in abundance in the months and years to come. That’s because every GSA employee knows the work we do is important, possibly never more important than now, when resources are scarce and taxpayers are counting on us to spend their funds wisely. 

I’m also convinced we will succeed because GSA employees believe the opportunity to serve is a blessing, one that carries the responsibility to make excellence and integrity the hallmarks of our service.

A new slogan bears that message: One GSA - One Voice.
You’ll be hearing it a lot:

One GSA - One Voice.

12,000 employees, one distinct message:

One GSA - One Voice.

Thanks very much.