The GSA Blog

Government on the Go!

Gwynne Kostin, Director Mobile, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies

Increasingly, mobile is the way of the world. More than 80 percent of the people in the U.S. use mobile devices, and by 2013 more people will be accessing the internet via mobile technology than on traditional computers. Government has got to keep up by offering its many websites and services in format that works for people.

Some federal agencies are already offering information and services on mobile devices and web applications. For example, the IRS has a smartphone app that allows taxpayers to track their refunds, and the TSA allows mobile users to find out what they can bring on a plane. Also, USA.gov has a mobile friendly site and app that places many government resources at the fingertips of citizens. These are just a few examples of the government’s growing success in adopting this technology.

But it’s clear that government is just beginning to embrace the possibilities. That’s why GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies is launching the Making Mobile Gov project, a campaign that will help federal agencies work together to share lessons learned and creatively problem solve to bring more government information and services to smartphones and other mobile devices.

Through the use of the Making Mobile Gov website, we will start a conversation among government, industry, and the public to brainstorm solutions to 10 key challenges to moving government to a mobile environment. Based on this input, we’ll launch web-based tools to help agencies build and implement mobile strategies and share resources.

Mobile technology is changing the way Americans find and use information. Making Mobile Gov will bring more web applications to smartphones and other mobile devices providing a more open and innovative government to the public. I encourage you to learn more about the Making Mobile Gov project and help shape this future by joining the discussion at www.gsa.gov/makingmobilegov.

Farmers Markets Benefit the Public and GSA Communities

George Prochaska, Greater Southwest Regional Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service

Federal buildings are often the focal point of many downtown and community landscapes across the country, a place where people go to work and get business done. Now, the public and federal employees alike have another reason to visit federal buildings and campus areas: farmers markets!

The Department of Agriculture estimates that the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has grown from almost 2,000 to more than 6,000 since 1994. A number of these markets are near buildings owned or leased by the General Services Administration. These federal buildings, courthouses, and campuses provide an ideal setting for farmers markets because of their central location and proximity to urban areas.

So why visit a farmers market? Because eating locally grown foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, promotes good health and helps support local farmers. It’s also an opportunity to reduce your personal environmental footprint. Buying fresh food that hasn’t traveled far, cuts down on harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, you’re supporting your community’s economy by supporting local farms.

GSA is answering the Obama administration’s call to create a culture of wellness by improving access to healthy food in the workplace. GSA has partnered with the USDA to prepare a guide to opening a farmers market on federal property. Additionally, GSA has also set up its own farmers markets for federal employees and the public.

In Atlanta, GSA’s Southeast Sunbelt Region launched the Midday Market at the Sam Nunn Federal Building, a fresh produce stand offering more than 70 varieties of fresh, organic, and often locally sourced fruit, vegetables, nuts and honey. Since the market’s launch, hundreds of federal employees, the general public and business community surrounding the federal center campus have purchased fresh produce at the open-air market. And in Colorado, GSA’s Rocky Mountain Region is co-hosting a weekly farmers market with the city of Lakewood at the Denver Federal Center.

To find out more about GSA’s role in setting up farmers markets, click here.

To find a farmers market near you, click here.

Welcome to the GSA Blog!

Martha Johnson, GSA Administrator

Welcome to the General Services Administration’s blog, a forum where we at GSA can tell our stories. Here, you’ll find the latest thoughts and projects from across our enterprise and across the country. My hope is that it will be dynamic, informative, and lively.

GSA’s expertise runs the length of the ABCs and back again – from architects to auctioneers. Every day, we bring these skills to bear as we improve the government's workspaces, deliver value through strategic purchasing, bring new technologies online to foster an open and participatory government, and much, much more. Every day, we impact your government and your community. We help the warfighter abroad and emergency response teams here at home. We link citizens through our online technologies and countries with our border stations. It's what I love about the agency: our niche is the anti-niche niche; we help everyone achieve anything.

In the following posts you’ll hear from our leadership, our subject matter experts, and me on a wide range of issues. We will call out our expertise and show how it helps create a better, more effective, and more sustainable government for the American people. The posts will offer the public a window -- or, even better, a door -- into our work: the business of government.

Giving Businesses Tips to Succeed in Federal Contracting

Jiyoung C. Park, Associate Administrator, Office of Small Business Utilization

The Federal government needs a wide variety of goods and services to do the business of the American people. As the federal government’s centralized procurement source, many of those contracts flow through the U.S. General Services Administration. These contracts touch businesses of all sizes and industries ranging from IT, to construction and engineering services, to furniture manufacturers.

At GSA, we’re committed to supporting the Obama Administration’s agenda of helping American businesses out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. At GSA, we understand that our partnerships with the private sector are invaluable for delivering innovative, cost effective solutions for government agencies and the American taxpayer.

That’s why we’re launching GSA’s Business Breakthrough -- a program to help businesses better understand the intricacies of the Federal marketplace and GSA’s contracting vehicles and take advantage of opportunities for growth. These sessions will be rolled out in cities across the country in the coming months.

The Business Breakthrough sessions will offer companies a robust agenda full of up-to-date information on how to successfully navigate government contracting. Representatives from GSA and industry will provide information and guidance including real-world case studies from across industries. The workshop series will be presented over three days and will provide valuable information not only for companies new to Federal contracting but also those seeking to advance their knowledge.

Stay tuned to gsa.gov/businessbreakthrough to see when GSA’s Business Breakthrough will be coming to a city near you!

Popular TV Show Helps Uncover Lost “New Deal” Artwork

By Brian D. Miller, GSA Inspector General

What a difference one television show can make!

Two weeks ago, the Public Broadcasting Service's popular "Antiques Roadshow" program profiled a little-known GSA mission – steward of historic fine arts created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal." In particular, the show discussed GSA's desire to locate and recover missing pieces of this unique artwork portfolio. Already, GSA has received numerous leads from the audience and has even confirmed the ownership of three works of art.

Under the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, or WPA, American artists received jobs that allowed them to capture the richness and beauty of the nation’s history through their artwork.

While many of these precious works of art hang in art institutions across the country, many are still missing from the collection and GSA is working diligently to locate and preserve them. This effort caught the attention of the Public Broadcasting Service’s hit television show, “Antiques Roadshow.” In the summer of 2010, show host Mark Walberg and his television crew spent a day at GSA interviewing, GSA Investigator Eric Radwick, and Kathy Erickson from GSA’s fine arts staff, and I about the New Deal collection of paintings, sculptures, murals, and prints, and how GSA is trying to locate and recover missing pieces.

The results from the show were dramatic. Just this week, a Minnesota school teacher informed GSA that a watercolor painting, “Tear Station” by Arthur Kerrick, had hung on his classroom wall for more than two decades. Radwick is now working with the teacher to determine if the painting was commissioned and therefore on loan to the school district or if it must be returned to the federal government.

To couple those recent discoveries, GSA has received information about five additional works of art and the fine arts team is researching the ownership of these works of art. If you have any information about artwork created under the New Deal, please call the GSA Inspector General hotline at 800-424-5210.

You can see the Antiques Roadshow segment here.

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