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Shea Says SmartPay Has Bright Future

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
David Shea
Director, Office of Charge Card Management
U.S. General Services Administration
10th Annual GSA SmartPay Training Conference
Denver, CO
July 22, 2008

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you, Leslie. My job is to look forward and get us all thinking about the next decade.

Ten years from today, as the curtain rises on what may very well be the “SmartPay3” convention, I’d bet that my future counterpart peers out on an audience of some 10,000 people.

Many groups will be represented, and any stories you read in the press will be about the hallmark of this program: increased efficiency and effectiveness. The news will be about brilliant innovations, additional customers and increased taxpayer savings. As I look into my crystal ball, that's exactly what I see.

With transaction processing under GSA SmartPay2 beginning at the end of this November, we are poised to launch the charge card program of the future.

I’m not stargazing when I say this program is a sequel that may just top the original! That doesn’t happen often, but it just might in this case. There are some great benefits to updating GSA SmartPay2, but it all hinges on how well we execute.

Our record to date is pretty good. So far this fiscal year, overall transaction volume is up more than 12 percent compared to the same period last year!

While task order awards are significant, we still have a long way to go to ensure a smooth and successful transition. As we know, a successful sequel builds on the best of the original and adds its own distinct characteristics.

Everyone here at this terrific conference knows charge cards have become essential tools in our everyday business. Agencies used them more than 90 million times last year alone. We therefore cannot afford any significant gaps in service.

As hall of fame basketball coach John Wooden once said: “it’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Speaking of making big things happen, I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to thank our GSA SmartPay2 banks for playing such a pivotal role in the transition thus far. Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and U.S Bank will continue their vital role in the program and have agreed to carry the torch through 2018 (if all options are exercised).

I know that with all of us working together, we can make this a smooth transition, and that SmartPay2 will be a worthy successor to its predecessor.

Leslie spoke of the 10th anniversary of the GSA SmartPay program, and the remarkable growth it has experienced.

I’m confident that a decade from now, we’ll again be able to cite a new list of remarkable achievements. I wouldn’t be surprised, for instance, if we are able to say:

  • Transaction volume has almost doubled to the tune of $50 billion annually and that… 
  •  The program is routinely handling grant payments, local travel and is available to state and local governments.

I can also imagine that in the future we might say something like: due to the use of advanced biometric technology, plastic charge cards are seldom used anymore, and that thumbprints and multipurpose government Id badges serve as the primary method for making purchases and authenticating card users.

I hope we’ll be able to talk about how transactions are so data rich, level 3 data is available on every transaction, and that we’re working to provide highly detailed level 5 data.

Gazing a bit further into the future, I see the possibility of:

  • Seamless feeds to agency property systems;
  • Automatic strategic sourcing, And;
  • Taxation issues that are crystal clear, because systems ensure that taxes are not applied at the point of sale, eliminating the need for tax reclamation efforts.

Only time will tell whether I’m a good futurist. One thing I do know for sure is that Coach Wooden was right on the money when he said:

 “Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.”

Our team has both. We won with SmartPay because we had the talent, and we’re going to repeat with SmartPay2 because we have the talent and the character.  Many of the ideas I mentioned are already within reach, and we look forward to working together with you, our customers, as well as some of the world’s finest banks.

We are committed to continuous improvement, a seamless transition and a program that always provides the best, most cost-effective transaction processing services available anywhere.

Thank you very much.