GSA Takes Great Pride in Local Presence

James Williams' Common Cents Administrator Column LogoNext time you see a car, van or truck driving by you with a government license plate, look closely. Chances are there’s a GSA logo in the corner.

GSA is shorthand for the U.S. General Services Administration, quite possibly the largest federal agency you never heard of. But we’re a neighbor and part of your community in more ways than you might imagine.

If you’ve heard of GSA at all, it’s probably in our unofficial capacity as the nation’s landlord. Indeed, GSA provides 330 million square feet of office space to more than a million federal employees in towns like the one you’re in right now.

GSA is also behind most of the government’s purchases, including everything from phone contracts to computers, cars, vans and trucks. But there’s plenty more.

Since its creation 60 years ago, GSA has grown from federal property manager to the agency responsible for $50 billion in government spending. Chances are some of that money goes to things you see every day.

If there’s a federal courthouse in your town, it’s either owned or leased by GSA. Our supplies keep it running smoothly. GSA saves millions of taxpayer dollars by using the bulk buying power of the government to equip federal buildings such as courthouses with everything from copiers to furniture. New courthouses and federal buildings also help revitalize cities by spurring additional investment.

The next time you call a Social Security Office about your benefits or call the IRS with a question about your taxes, you’ll probably be talking to someone who’s using a phone owned or leased through a GSA contract. The state of the art, secure, electronic information network that these agencies use to process your account data allowing them to better serve you is likely provided by GSA.

GSA is working hard to save more than money. We’re green and getting greener. That means we find ways to help preserve our precious natural resources. We’re even making our own electricity across the country in cities such as Denver.

In fact, at GSA’s Denver Federal Solar Park, more than 6,000 solar panels produce enough electricity to power 18 million 60-watt light bulbs for a year. That’s 20 light bulbs for every resident of Detroit. Put another way, every citizen of Baltimore could turn on a microwave and run it 24 hours a day for a year using the power generated at the Denver solar park.

If you’ve visited the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, you saw firsthand the power of wind energy. The power at both sites is 100 percent wind-generated. The same is true of the federal building in Binghamton, NY.

GSA is a leader in green initiatives and telework, initially a government program, which keeps thousands of cars off America’s roads every day by allowing employees to work from home or telework centers across the country.

We’ve purchased more than 143,000 alternative fuel vehicles for government use. Some of the alternative fuels are compressed natural gas, liquid propane and even electricity. And GSA offers some 10,000 environmentally friendly green goods and services to federal agencies.

Know, too, that GSA is firmly committed to serving our men and women in uniform. The Defense Department is our largest client, and I was especially pleased this week when we unveiled an agreement to provide the Army with 4,000 leased electric vehicles that produce no emissions.

GSA is also dedicated to simplifying citizen access to official government information and services. Time magazine has listed USA.gov as one of the Top 25 Sites. You Can’t Live Without, and our agency site, gsa.gov, is one of the top-rated sites throughout the federal government. USA.gov allows visitors to search 40 million government webpages. Citizens can access information on everything from popular baby names to available government jobs, from changing your address to tax counseling for the elderly.

GSA: We’re 12,000 strong, spread among 11 Regional offices around the country and the world, and fully committed to providing goods, services, and workspaces to our federal agency customers at best value. Learn more about the helpful neighbor you may have overlooked at www.gsa.gov.

Jim Williams is Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration

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