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At IRMCO Conference, Johnson Ennumerates Features of a High Performance Government and Shows that GSA is Poised to Take the Lead

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
Martha N. Johnson
U.S. General Services Administration
GSA's Interagency Resources Management Conference
Gallaudet University
Washington, DC
March 15, 2011

Thanks for that kind introduction, and thank you President T. Alan Hurwitz and the rest of the Gallaudet community for hosting us this week for IRMCO’s golden anniversary.

Your facilities are gorgeous, and I know that you are leading the way in sustainability within the higher education community. Bravo, and thank you.

This isn’t just a golden anniversary for IRMCO; this is a pivotal moment for government.

We – the nation, the government and the resource managers in this room – face some significant challenges.

As President Barack Obama said in the State of the Union Address: We need to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate our competitors to maintain our global leadership.

It is our heritage and our obligation to continue as the world leader in innovation, inclusiveness, openness, and creativity.

And we have to do all this in a budgetary climate that is uncertain yet certainly diminished.

We have to do more with less. We have to boost our efficiencies, shrink our waste, and build our collaborative capacities.

In other words, we have to create and foster a high-performance government.

We need a government that efficiently and effectively uses its resources; collaborates with the public; is nimble, agile, and responsive.

What are the best strategies for creating and fostering such a government?

The first strategy is to have a good strategic partner.

Allow me to suggest GSA for that role.

The Obama administration sees us as a strategic asset.

We are the membrane between government and industry. We touch many markets, a lot of the supply chain. We have important levers of policy change.

Our mission is to use our expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions, and by so doing, foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government.

For customers, we offer unparalleled expertise and best value in everything from IT to travel to buildings to disposal of property.

To industry, we provide clear business opportunities, encourage innovation, and support and invite good ideas.

To do this, we deliberately play a broad array of roles.

We transact business: buy, sell, post, reconcile, maintain, measure.

We convene and facilitate: We bring people together and solve problems.

We are a laboratory, a test bed, an ideas forum for what works and what doesn’t.

In short, you couldn’t have a better strategic partner.

The second strategy for a high-performance government is efficient and effective use of resources.

GSA is tackling this by embracing an aggressive sustainability agenda, zero environmental footprint. Z-E-F. ZEF.

ZEF means “no waste.” This is an environmental philosophy, a management philosophy, taxpayer dollar stewardship, and a budget directive.

Sustainability is about being smart and efficient stewards of our resources.

That means all of our resources. And you are the people in government charged with the stewardship of our resources.

The private sector gets this.

To many private firms, sustainability is about more than blue skies and clear water; it’s about productivity, efficiency, and the bottom line.

We should never waste, squander, or duplicate.

GSA’s strategic sourcing initiatives and other heavy-lift procurement vehicles aim to provide efficient value for customers.

For example, last year alone, we saved agencies $128 million in package delivery service fees through strategic sourcing – in other words, co-operative buying – of delivery services.

ZEF is GSA’s “pull metric.” It pulls us to excellence.

It sets up a discipline similar to the transformational disciplines of total quality, zero defect products, perfect safety records.

ZEF is our change agent. It incites creativity and innovation.

By pursuing clean technologies for our building portfolio, we are investing in American-made solar panels.

By moving toward fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles, we are encouraging new, home-grown markets like revolutionary car battery recycling facilities.

By embracing virtual work, we are discovering that commuting time can be used for exercising, that instant messaging and cloud documents can link teams in new ways, that entire floors of office space need not be heated and cooled.

Elsewhere, we’re helping small businesses tackle the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions tracking and accounting, which will help trim waste from their supply chains.

And, ZEF is our talent machine.

It galvanizes people. It electrifies creativity. It touches every organization, every agency, and everyone. It holds deep meaning that motivates and engages people.

A third attribute of a high-performance government is that it does not hide; it does not close in on itself.

Instead, it reaches out to and collaborates with the public.

This is about open – in other words, “good” – government.

Transparency promotes accountability.

Participation enhances the government’s effectiveness.

Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their government.

Together, they produce greater satisfaction and higher trust in a better-performing government.

At GSA, we’re strengthening our ties to the public.

We’re opening unprecedented amounts of information to the public on for their consumption and analysis.

We’re assisting citizens on the go by partnering with agencies to support mobile applications that stream information ranging from product recalls to Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint wait times directly into the palms of millions of Americans.

And, we’re making use of collaborative tools to help improve the Federal Citizen Information Center, which receives more than 180 million requests for information each year from the public.

A fourth attribute of a high-performance government is that it is nimble, agile, responsive, and adaptive

For this, we have the Office of Governmentwide Policy.

OGP is helping to make your lives easier by slashing redundant regulations, revisiting the travel, fleet, and information technology policies, and bringing the government into the next decade.

Recently, we hosted an incredibly productive slam – a daylong brainstorming and action session – on the Federal Acquisition Regulation. I anticipate some terrific outputs from that session in the near future.

OGP also recognizes the need to revisit our regulations around office space and the increasingly mobile work force.

Today’s workplaces increasingly rely on horizontal, team-based communication rather than the vertical, hierarchical communication of the past. We’ve moved from organizational ladders to organizational lattices.

We need new ways to work together and with citizens.

GSA, therefore, is testing and practicing with our own workspace. We are executing judo moves to immerse ourselves in futuristic workspaces so as to learn for our customers.

The lift around this is huge. Such as new server accessibility, new mobile connectivity, new policies for setting and organizing the mobile field, new protocols on teams, and new forms of leadership.

And that brings me to my final point – the final attribute of a high-performance government is that it learns.

GSA facilitates communication between and amongst the federal community.

We experiment, shoulder risks, learn, and share success and failures with you.

We’re eager to convene the important players and foster dialogue – as we’re doing here at IRMCO.

We are, at a moment, a pivotal moment in which government is being tested.

We gather here for two days to learn, share, collaborate, and to solve our problems.

Our individual missions vary greatly, but our purpose is the same: to provide the American people with the finest government possible.

I want you to know that GSA stands ready to help; we’ve got your back.

Thank you.

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