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Bibb Tells Coalition GSA Focused on Superior Customer Service, Financial Management, Environmental Offerings

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Coalition for Government Procurement
Spring Conference
Mclean, Virginia
May 28, 2008


Thank you very much, Larry.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It’s good to be back among old friends and familiar faces. As you heard, the expected transition at GSA occurred a little earlier than we anticipated, and I am now acting administrator. I think it’s safe to say that makes me only the second head of GSA in recent memory who started at the agency before the Coalition for Government Procurement was formed three decades ago. I started as a GSA management intern in Atlanta in 1971.

Let’s go back a bit further. The word “coalition” comes from a Latin word that meant, “to grow together.” Today we think of a coalition as an alliance of people … or parties … or nations … or in this case, of industry … formed for a common purpose of interacting with government.

I can think of no better words to explain our mutual purpose than the reason your organization was created: To ensure common sense in government procurement.

Let the trumpets blare and let the word go forth. GSA’s new acting administrator supports common sense in government procurement.

There will not be a single headline. Nor should there be.

Citizens expect – and they have a right to expect – that the federal government’s premier procurement agency exercise common sense when delivering billions of dollars worth of supplies and services annually to our sister agencies.

But what exactly do we mean by “common sense?”

Does it mean using the GSA Schedules, strategic sourcing or landmark programs like Networx to save taxpayer dollars? If so, consider:

  • GSA's gross revenues are up compared to last year for both the Public Buildings Service ($40 million) and the Federal Acquisition Service ($89 million).
  • Business with our largest customer, the Department of Defense, is up 6 percent over last year.
  • GSA's Acquisition Services Fund is enjoying a net operating result substantially higher than planned.
  • Assisted Acquisition Services is down slightly, about 5 percent versus last year, but we’re hopeful that we’ve reached a floor and will move up. Meanwhile, our efforts to control costs and match staff to business volume are paying off, and we expect to end this year much closer to breaking even than last year.
  • Our flagship Multiple Award Schedules are up by 2.5 percent with more than 19 billion dollars of business activity going through them as of March 31st. Again, we’re on pace to set a new annual record in aggregate schedules business volume.

Maybe common sense means tapping into the expertise of astute third parties, as we did when we recently created our Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel. As you know, we assembled this blue ribbon commission to review our schedules procedures and pricing policies and to provide objective, definitive guidance to government clients, government contractors, and federal procurement and auditing professionals. Larry Allen, representing he coalition’s balanced membership of small, medium, and large businesses, is among the members. Together our panel members represent some of the nation’s best, brightest and most experienced procurement experts.

Or maybe common sense demands that we remain ever mindful of contracting opportunities for the sector of our economy that creates over two-thirds of the new jobs in America. Our agency’s commitment to small business is considerable.

We have also simplified and shortened the time it takes to get on schedule, increased educational outreach efforts, and placed special emphasis on increasing opportunities for small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Maybe common sense means increasing our appeal through more offerings and a sharper focus on customer service.

If that’s the definition, consider:

  • I myself am leading agencywide groups on building business and service opportunities with DoD and in agencywide strategic marketing;
  • We have adopted a, “One GSA, One Voice” philosophy across the agency. This means that whenever we undertake a project, we automatically think about opportunities to partner with other parts of GSA. When such an opportunity becomes a reality, we work so closely with our GSA counterparts that the customer sees and hears only One GSA, with One Voice.
  • One of our great successes in recent months has been the number of new services that are being brought into the General Supplies and Services Schedules. Much effort has gone into updating our suite of offerings, ensuring that our contracts remain current and vital, and that we’re meeting new and emerging needs.  You'll be pleased to hear we’re planning several more service additions through the rest of the year. And I'm especially pleased that some of those schedule program additions have come through the One GSA, One Voice approach.
  • We have, as one example, enhanced our schedules with furniture project management, construction management, and ancillary repair and alteration services. These additions will provide customer agencies with more comprehensive and flexible solutions.

Indeed, GSA is committed to providing comprehensive solutions to the federal community.  Our One GSA, One Voice offerings are the embodiment of this commitment.  Remember that while many initiatives result in tangible offerings, others are aimed strictly at internal improvement. So you may not always see us running laps or pumping iron, but you will see a leaner, fitter GSA. For example, we’re strengthening our integrated business systems, analytics and strategies and measuring our performance as one GSA.

In addition, common sense is most certainly fulfilling our federal contracting and fiscal responsibilities.  We are all about clear statements of work and competition among contractors.  We are about handling agencies’ funding correctly . . . sometimes we know the exact status of their funding better than they do themselves.  We’re proud of our clean audit opinion and recognition by outside groups that we have our fiscal house in order.  I strongly believe that our fiscal accountability is a competitive advantage for GSA and a bonus for the taxpayer.  We are also about making purchasing data available to our customers . . . we can tell them where their dollars are going and what their buying trends are.  With our new credit card contracts, we have created an entire system of new controls that make sure that there is a minimum of opportunities for improper spending.

On one other front, common sense argues for the government’s lead procurement agency to be a leader when it comes to green products and services. As Chief Environmental Official, I’m delighted that GSA now offers some 10,000 green goods and services, and that we’ve made eco-friendly procurement easier and easier for federal agencies. There is an obvious and tremendous opportunity for schedule holders of environmentally friendly and environmentally sustainable products and services. On the other hand for those not moving in this direction, note that we will be phasing out non-compliant products and services over the next couple of years, where applicable. Our “green” offerings range from telework centers to recycling programs. They include buildings that are environmentally friendly; hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles; energy efficient lighting systems; and supplies and services that help agencies meet their missions and become more responsible stewards of our environment.  And by the way, PBS and FAS are working together to expand the array of energy services available on those schedules; I anxiously look forward to that addition later this year.

Common sense includes building strong relationships with key stakeholders and other partners. I’ve mentioned business is up with DOD. Let me also mention:

  • Our MOU with the U.S. Marine Corps, signed October 26th, 2007 by FAS Commissioner Jim Williams and Major General Edward Usher. Through this partnership, GSA Global Supply will provide an expanded line of products cheaper and faster to Marines worldwide. Our projected sales volume after full implementation is between 300 million to 500 million dollars annually.
  • And let me read part of a wonderful letter I just received last week from 4-star General Norton A. Scwartz, Commander of The U. S. Transportation Command (Transcom), headquartered at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Dear Mr. Bibb, it said. Please accept my sincere appreciation for the great efforts by GSA in support of the DoD Warfighter. the innovative work being done by GSA in forward-stocking critical material and distribution process streamlining has significantly improved support to forward deployed forces.

That is the type of letter we want to receive from all our customers. Which reminds me…

- We’re building new, strong relationships with cities and states. For example, various agencies in New York City are very interested in our Disaster Recovery and Cooperative Purchasing Program. The New York City Transportation Department recently purchased a 500 thousand dollar boat under The Disaster Recovery Program.  We anticipate many, many more opportunities in state and local government, and we are marketing aggressively.  There is a huge potential to save taxpayers tremendous amounts of money through state and local use of our schedules and other acquisition tools. As most of you know, the schedules by law are now available to state and local governments for I-T and disaster recovery.  We expect imminent passage of new legislation that will also open up our law enforcement offerings to the same set of customers.

- And speaking of key stakeholders, I know you’re wondering about our relationship with the GSA Inspector General. I had my first bi-weekly meeting recently with IG Brian Miller and it’s fair to say we both thought it went very well, and that we both intend to build on that solid beginning.

- This applies as well to congressional relations. We are meeting regularly with key legislative staff to strengthen relationships and ensure that GSA’s interests are well represented. And we’re also closely monitoring and working with staff and members on several bills that could impact GSA. Most notable among these bills is the Defense Authorization Act on 2008 and procurement legislation being moved by Congressman Waxman and Senators Lieberman and Collins.  We fully expect elements of the Waxman-Lieberman-Collins legislative efforts to be appended to the Defense Authorization Bill.

As I close, it’s worth remembering that the preamble to GSA’s original charter is all about common sense. Look at this way: If we were forming a government from scratch right now, would we put separate procurement divisions in each new agency, or create a single agency in charge of all government procurement? Would we let each agency fend for itself to find the best price for goods and services, or have one procurement agency leverage the government’s enormous buying power, buy in bulk, and pass the savings on to all the other agencies?  Would we cause government suppliers, contractors, and vendors to establish prices, terms, and conditions across literally dozens of procurement vehicles scattered across the federal government, or would we save the companies, the government and the taxpayer money by sparing the private sector so much unnecessary expense that it has no choice but to pass on in its pricing? Would we allow each agency to buy, say, Oracle Software on its own, or negotiate a terrific discount and save taxpayers as much as 84 percent on this software, as we did last year through our GSA Smartbuy Program?

We’d do it the second way … the common sense way.

Emerson said common sense is genius dressed up in its working clothes. While each of us is dressed today for business success, I see GSA and its industry partners in working clothes … sleeves rolled up … a little sweat on our brows … ready and eager to apply some genius to the procurement challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you very much.