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Prouty Praises GSA SmartPay as Emblematic of Good Government

As prepared for delivery.

Remarks by
Paul Prouty
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
11th Annual GSA Smartpay Training Conference
Phoenix, Arizona
July 28, 2009


Thank you very much, David (Shea).

Good morning, everyone.  When Dave told me that this conference sold out in three days, he was a bit excited, and now I see why!  There are nearly 6,000 of you here today, which I understand may be a new record.

It doesn’t surprise me, however, as the GSA SmartPay program impacts so many people working in government.  It is a standard bearer for good government that enjoys widespread support from the executive and legislative branches, as well as the bank and merchant communities. There aren’t many programs that can claim such broad support.

It’s been my privilege to serve as GSA’s Acting Administrator since January.  There has been a whirlwind of activity in those six months, fueled by energy and enthusiasm to make a difference for our citizens.  What you do – day in and day out – is a critical part of that effort.

And what a great experience it has been.  Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the most sweeping economic package in the history of the country – GSA has been given an unprecedented opportunity to aid in this effort while working toward a new energy economy, by investing in new, more energy-efficient vehicles for the federal fleet and by reinvesting in our public buildings.

In addition, we are helping other agencies – perhaps yours – meet their recovery act goals, through the Multiple Award Schedule, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts, multiple agency contracts, the GSA Advantage online ordering system, and our SmartPay 2 program.

GSA expects to have up to $50 billion of recovery funds to be distributed through our contract vehicles.

Our Recovery Act efforts stay true to GSA’s mission … to provide goods, services, and workspace, to federal agencies at best value so they can focus on their core missions.

GSA SmartPay has been, and will always be, a great example of this effort.

GSA SmartPay is good government at its finest.  Thanks to a great relationship with industry partners, we’ve been able to simplify purchases for government employees for everything from pencils and other office supplies, to tools and equipment needed for disaster response.

We have streamlined payment processes saving billions in administrative processing costs … and thousands of trees.

Most importantly, in FY 2008, your agencies purchased more than $30 billion worth of goods and services in about 100 million transactions, resulting in approximately $187 million in refunds back to your agencies. 

And this year, we also crossed a significant threshold … a billion dollars in gross refunds over the 10 years the GSA SmartPay program has been in operation.

Part of that occurred during a seamless transition to the SmartPay 2 system. 

This was no easy task, as whole agencies switched banks, who in turn had to issue 3 million new cards.  Data systems that support the cards had to be changed. 

We recognize that with any transition this large, there are details that still need to be addressed.  GSA will continue to work with your agencies and the banks to resolve these issues.

Nevertheless, the overall success of this transition is a testament to the close collaboration between GSA, your agencies, and our partner banks.  You have made this work.  I congratulate all of you on this achievement. 

If that weren’t enough, the program continues to offer innovative new products and services: 

  • Declining balance and stored value cards have been offered for the first time. 
  • Card-less accounts are on the rise.

We now have three great banks providing card services to the government:

  • Citibank
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • US Bank

Assuming all options are exercised, they’ll be serving us through 2018.

These contractor banks are a big reason the transition to SmartPay 2 was so successful, and for the success of SmartPay before that.  I thank them – as I know you do – for their commitment to tailored customer service, extensive data and systems capabilities, and their willingness to compete again for your business. 

GSA values our partnership with you, our customers, and we continually strive to make this program the absolute best it can be. 

  • This program provides our government with an effective and efficient tool to support purchase, travel, and vehicle fleet operations.
  • Our goal is world class, streamlined, best practice processes that are consistent with private industry standards.

And let’s not forget that when we benefit from SmartPay, our citizens benefit. 

And here’s a benefit to which I alluded earlier:  You can use your purchase cards and card-less accounts to support your agency’s recovery act efforts.

  • Purchase cards offer the benefits of high transaction speeds with excellent, built-in levels of accountability and transparency that meet both the spirit and the requirements of the recovery act. 
  • I urge you to check out OMB Memo M-09-15, or just see any one of the GSA representatives here, for more information.

GSA and each of our bank partners have developed an excellent series of training sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities designed to meet your specific needs.  I’m sure you will take every opportunity to learn more and to share experiences.  Woodrow Wilson once said, “I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow.”  I hope you’ll do the same.

Thank you for coming to this terrific event.  Enjoy the conference!