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Deputy Administrator Brasseux Welcomes Feds to IRMCO 2009

As prepared for delivery.

 

Remarks by
Barney Brasseux
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
2009 Interagency Resources Management Conference
Cambridge, Maryland
April 19, 2009

 

Welcome, everyone, to the 2009 Interagency Resources Management Conference!

Now in its 48th year, there is no better forum than IRMCO for the senior leaders of our government to get together and talk about the most timely issues and opportunities we face, in an environment that allows in-depth dialogue and collaboration.

I know that many of you have developed lasting friendships and strong collegial relationships from past IRMCOs.  I wouldn’t expect any less this year.

GSA and the Interagency Executive Steering Committee have put together an excellent program for you this year. I am sure when you leave here Wednesday afternoon, you’ll go back to your offices with:

  • A briefcase full of new ideas, and;
  • A propensity to act, as there is much for us to do quickly.

So how about a big round of applause for everyone involved in putting on this great event!

Our theme this year – Transformational Leadership: Steering a New Course – couldn’t be timelier. 

We’ve all felt the urgency for change under our new administration. 

We’re all moving in new directions and doing so swiftly, because:

  • Our president asked us to;
  • Our nation depends on us, and;
  • What we do today can significantly impact the lives of millions of Americans tomorrow and well into the future.

I, for one, am excited and challenged by the opportunities that lie before us.

What does it mean to steer a new course?

For one, you’ve got to know where you want to go! Even Christopher Columbus had a destination in mind before he discovered the new world.

Second, you have to recognize that the path to your destination may not always be in a straight line.

Driving down here today, across the Bay Bridge and even crossing the Choptank River you see outside, it was great to see all the boats enjoying this great spring weather.

No matter where the boats were headed, however, their skippers were steering a slightly different course to compensate for the action of the wind and currents.

We in government must do the same to get where we want to go. 

Right now, we’re sailing with the wind behind us.

We’re buoyed by the administration’s and Congress’ actions in getting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed.

Agencies like yours and mine are moving quickly and smartly to implement plans.

But there will be shifts in the wind: 

  • Changes in priorities from either the administration or Congress;
  • Projects that don’t work out quite as well as planned, and;
  • Any number of setbacks and delays.

Just as the mariner anticipates the wind shift by listening to the weather report, it’s important to know that:

  • Changes will occur;
  • Plan for them wherever possible, and;
  • Adjust your course accordingly.

The winds of change are upon us.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation we’ve experienced in decades.

The Recovery Act is creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many federal agencies.

For GSA, this means:

  • An opportunity to address many long-standing infrastructure needs of our real estate portfolio;
  • Stimulating jobs in the construction and real estate sectors, and;
  • Protecting and improving the value of our assets – prolonging their usefulness and further conserving our country’s resources.

At the same time, we will stimulate:

  • Long-term growth in energy-efficient technologies, and;
  • Alternative energy solutions.

GSA will lead the world in green building:

  • Demonstrate how government is going green, and;
  • Show the building community how to go green.


Importantly, GSA is well positioned to assist you in meeting the goals of the legislation:

  • Connecting you with cost-effective, high-quality and environmentally friendly commercial products and services;
  • Linking you to thousands of private sector businesses at a moment’s notice, and; 
  • Providing expertise and resources to help you acquire needed products and services at best value.

In the news recently, GSA is moving forward with the acquisition of 17,600 fuel efficient vehicles – including 2,500 hybrid sedans – for the federal fleet:

  • This is a significant step toward preserving natural resources, the environment and money;
  • The move is expected to cut federal vehicle gas consumption by 1.3 million gallons a year;
  • This move is using $285 million of the $300 million allotted under the Recovery Act, and;
  • The balance will be used to purchase and conduct pilot tests on advanced technology vehicles, including all-electric vehicles and compressed-natural gas and hybrid buses.

Another key part of GSA’s mission is to help other federal agencies achieve their goals, particularly as it relates to technology.


For example, we have worked closely with OMB to launch Recovery.gov:

  • This was a real team effort across GSA, and:
  • The site was launched on February 17, and I’m proud to say that we had more than 5 million visits through the end of March.

GSA is providing leadership in the adoption of new media:

  • Information needs to be accessible where people are, not where you want them to be.
  • Where new media was once the purview of young people, baby boomers are quickly becoming the primary audience.
  • Seven thousand feds have been trained through our Web Manager University.
  • We provide links on USA.gov to government podcasts, blogs, videos and RSS feeds.
  • Working with several other agencies, GSA recently signed terms of service agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip.tv.  These agreements can be a starting point if you want to use these tools within your agency.

Government is better able to serve the people when it makes its decisions based on extensive citizen input.

Simple, low-cost tools such as these will increase our collective ability to act quickly to bring information to our citizens and hear back from them in realtime. This enhances transparency and increases citizen participation in government. 

Let’s get real.

Opportunities abound, but let’s be pragmatic for a moment.

There are huge challenges ahead.

The president has made it clear that every taxpayer dollar spent on economic recovery be subject to unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability.

The administration stands for:

  • Transparency
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Effectiveness

These are words we must all live by, especially as we talk this week.

Let me add one other word:  velocity

  • There’s an incredible sense of urgency in Washington.
  • Velocity is a term with which we’re becoming very comfortable.
  • It means speed moving in the right direction.
  • We are moving quickly  “in the right direction” means paying close attention to our responsibilities and accountability to the American taxpayer. 


We have great opportunities in front of us, but the window of opportunity is small.

Many eyes will be on the administration and each of our agencies, looking for missteps and chinks in the armor.

There is no time to waste, now is the time to act.

The legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said:

 “The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move."

Words to live by, in my book.