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GSA saves taxpayers billions of dollars in 2023: Faster, better, cheaper

| GSA Blog Team
Post filed in: Art  |  Awards  |  Buildings  |  Cost Savings  |  Equity  |  FAS  |  GSA Administrator  |  Lighthouses  |  Open Government  |  SmartPay

GSA continued to shrink federal government expenses in 2023 – from selling historic lighthouses to using cheap and sustainable grass-eating goats to discovering ways to shave nearly 3.5 million square feet off the federal footprint – returning millions of dollars to taxpayers.

Here are ways we saved money and took action to provide great value to taxpayers.

Putting buildings in the hands of communities

GSA’s Public Buildings Service announced in November its first steps toward transferring or disposing of 3.5 million square feet over 23 locations. The projected savings is estimated at $1 billion over 10 years.

A woman in a red jacket speaking in front of a video camera with a lighthouse in the background

The annual lighthouse season, one of the agency’s most visible initiatives, partners with the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard to sell or transfer lighthouses to new owners, saving the federal government maintenance expense. The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act ensures these historical structures are preserved while removing them from government rolls, saving taxpayers’ money. Bidding topped more than $1.1 million this year, and caught the attention of 1,600 news outlets, including features on The Today Show and CBS Evening News.

From lighthouses to summer houses to federal courthouses, the agency will continue to dispose of property in ways that benefit local communities and taxpayers. 

Making the damn websites work

Simplifying how federal customers, stakeholders, and the public interact with GSA was a top priority in 2023, responding to Administrator Robin Carnahan’s directive that the agency “make the damn websites work.”

Federal websites receive about 2 billion visits each month, representing over 80 billion hours of interaction with the public. Improving the lives of millions by making it easier to access digital information and services is at the heart of the President’s Delivering a Digital-First Public Experience memo released in September.

By the end of 2023, 91 federal agencies and nearly 450 websites were using code from GSA’s US Web Design System (USWDS), a free, open-source toolkit for agencies – and anyone – to use when designing their websites.

Several of GSA’s Personal Property Management’s websites, such as GSA Auctions and Computers for Learning, were consolidated and streamlined into one user-friendly site. The website makes it easier for federal agencies to dispose of property that might have a second life in a community.  

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, GSA SmartPay, a program that supports more than $30 billion annually in federal agency transactions, shared how they redesigned their vast program and training websites in a three-part blog series on GSA’s Digital.gov.

Advancing technology efforts across the federal government – all while discussing the agency’s efforts on the world’s stage – remained a priority at GSA.

For example, Carnahan completed her first official trip overseas as a joint leader of the U.S. delegation at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, Sept. 6-7. The Open Government Partnership includes 75 countries and 104 local governments–representing more than 2 billion people–and thousands of civil society organizations.

Straight As on contracting and equity efforts

The Federal Acquisition Service reorganized this year to streamline how GSA does business in line with its federal customer needs. FAS helped federal agencies buy a record $100 billion worth of goods and services to deliver on their missions. FAS directly awarded more than $20 billion of that through contracts.  

Included in FAS contract awards was $183 million through the AbilityOne program, supporting employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.

A record 46% of contracting dollars were awarded to eligible small businesses. Delivering results for small businesses earned GSA an A+ from the Small Business Administration for fiscal year 2022, the 13th consecutive year the agency has earned an “A” grade or higher. 

Increasing equity and leveling the playing field for underserved small business owners remained a priority throughout the year.

In a first, a Tribal Liaison was added to the Administrator’s office. Additionally, the agency hosted its first Native American Industry Day, focused on identifying GSA opportunities, resources, and exploring how GSA can continue to deepen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country. 

In March 2023, GSA senior leaders met experts from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to explore how HBCUs can achieve success in the federal marketplace. It was among the agency’s many efforts to drive change for HBCUs and minority serving institutions.

The year saw the launch of a five-year option to 45 contract holders under the VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract program. This option will allow federal agencies to continue acquiring state of the art information technology services while supporting service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

“Humans of GSA”

GSA remained one of the top best places to work in the federal government after 83% of 2022’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey respondents agreed: “I would recommend my organization as a good place to work.” Among all midsized agencies in the federal government, GSA has been ranked No. 4 as a Best Place to Work for the second year in a row – a testimony to its human resources and recruitment efforts. The 2023 FEVS closed in June; preliminary data from the survey is available now. FEVS assesses GSA’s performance as a positive, healthy, and innovative work environment.

several employees working at tables and one employee standing and talking

Helping federal partners with workplace challenges

We created innovative – and beautiful – workspaces for other federal employees through GSA’s new Workplace Innovation Lab (WIL). Thousands of federal workers explored the WIL at GSA’s headquarters in Washington to test recent innovations in workplace furnishings and technology designed for today’s hybrid federal workers.

GSA also established federal coworking spaces across the country, including one in San Francisco that quickly solved two problems: The local federal building where USDA worked had been rocked in New Year’s storms that left floodwaters and power outages in its wake; and, the National Park Service was looking looking to save $200,000 per month in lease extensions as it awaited its new space to open up.

Collections of creativity

Large red metal sculpture in a plaza in front of black buildings with mirrored windows

GSA’s Art in Architecture’s Fine Arts Collection hosts more than 20,000 pieces and is one the nation’s oldest and largest public art collections. In 2023, it celebrated its 50th – or golden anniversary. GSA reserves 0.5% of the estimated construction cost of each new federal building or modernization for an Art in Architecture commission — a contractual agreement with an artist to create a site-specific artwork as part of the building project.

For the artists and craftsmans constructing federal buildings, GSA launched in 2023 its first biennial Construction Awards Program. The program aims to honor outstanding achievements in construction, with a focus on quality and craftsmanship, collaboration and team dynamics, sustainability, innovation, and technology. The first awards ceremony will be in 2024.

Rob Trubia

In an effort to explain GSA’s vast mission to the public, the agency’s Office of Strategic Communications relaunched the podcast, GSA Does That!? in May. The podcast hosts employees from inside the agency to break down what the agency does for the federal government and for taxpayers. Its second season kicks off in early  2024.

The agency rolled out a new Acquisition Talent Development program to recruit entry-level acquisition professionals. This built upon several other recruitment and hiring programs such as the Pathways Program’s Presidential Management Fellows that welcomed 10 new fellows this year. 

As one former GSA intern put it, “Once you get here, you might not want to leave.”

Read Part 2, “Pushing forward with green initiatives.”​​​​