How GSA Benefits the Public

2019 AFR Header Image
First page of U.S. General Services Administration’s first press release from July 3, 1949; and snapshot of first Administrator of GSA, Jess Larson
Top: U.S. General Services Administration’s First Press Release, July 3, 1949. Bottom: First Administrator of GSA, Jess Larson.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) does more than just keep pace with evolving needs of the Federal Government, we have a long-standing tradition of being a leader and change agent. Since our founding on July 1, 1949, we’ve delivered on our commitment as stewards of the public trust by eliminating wasteful duplication, reducing costs, streamlining acquisition, distributing supplies, increasing competition for American businesses, and centralizing the management of Federal facilities. In the last 70 years, our responsibilities and services have grown exponentially to better serve the changing needs of our agency customers and the American people. Today, our expertise, ideas, and innovation are wide-ranging and touch nearly every aspect of Federal Government’s operation as we pursue our core mission: to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across Government.

Then

One of our founding documents, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, demonstrated the intent of Congress to provide a cost effective and efficient system for Government procurement and supply of personal property and non-personal services. Congress further intended for GSA to be the centralized management, policy, and oversight agency for the Federal Government and to be a mandatory source of products and services across Government.

In our very first annual report, then-GSA Administrator Jess Larson acknowledged not only the diversity of GSA’s portfolio, but also the general feeling that “large savings could be achieved through common direction of related service functions, and the prescription of uniform policies and procedures for property management.”

Over the decades, the agency’s reach across the Federal Government has been significant: creating a Governmentwide intercity telephone system; pioneering cloud computing; championing Federal building design standards; spearheading research around open workspaces; standing up the consumer product information center; and creating DATA.gov to support transparency of and access to Government information. GSA provides solutions and expertise that support an effective, digital, data driven, Government that enhances the critical mission of the United States Government.

Now

The Federal landscape and marketplace have evolved during the last 70 years to provide a wide range of solutions for those with Federal acquisition, space, and service requirements. Even so, GSA’s commitment to its mission remains steadfast. Our commitment to supporting our Federal customers and partners by providing cost effective and high-quality services holds firm. We provide the physical space, supplies, technical innovation, products, and services essential to operating the Federal Government. As described in GSA’s 2018–2022 Strategic Plan, our team is filled with leaders holding unique skills across a modern workplace environment: procurement, technology, property management, mission support, and shared services that are at the core of what we do to deliver value and savings across Government. Every day, GSA helps agencies buy smarter and create a more agile and responsive Government to help make a difference in communities across the country.

Exteriors of the GSA Central Heating Plant in Washington, DC, and the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, OR
Top: U.S. General Services Administration, Central Heating Plant (circa 1933) in Washington, DC, was added to the Historical Register in 2008. Bottom: U.S. General Services Administration Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, OR.

At a time when GSA’s mission is more important than ever before, our employees are focused on four strategic goals: (1) Saving taxpayer money through better management of Federal real estate; (2) establishing GSA as the premier provider of efficient and effective acquisition solutions across Government; (3) improving the way Federal agencies buy, build, and use technology; and (4) designing and delivering expanded shared services within GSA and across the Federal Government to improve performance and save taxpayer money.

Well-Managed Real Estate

With more than 369.4 million rentable square feet in more than 8,800 locations, GSA manages one of the largest and most diversified real estate portfolios in the world. In keeping with its first strategic goal to save taxpayer money through better management of Federal real estate, the agency supports safe and productive workplaces by strategically managing and preserving Government buildings, and also leases and manages commercial real estate. GSA manages real property in all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to meet the varied missions of our Federal agency partners. In addition to providing workspace to customer agencies, GSA is responsible for promoting effective use of Federal real property assets and adopting innovative workplace solutions to support the productivity of Federal employees.

In FY 2019, GSA disposed of 167 assets on behalf of the Federal Government, generating more than $98.65 million in proceeds; these disposals resulted in a reduction of more than 879 thousand gross square feet and 854.6 acres of land from the Federal inventory. Many of these former Federal properties found new uses, fueling local economic development and community revitalization efforts.

In FY 2019, GSA provided to the public updated data from the Federal Government’s real property inventory. The Federal Real Property Management System contains an inventory of Federal properties under the custody and control of executive branch agencies. This database improves transparency to the Federal Government’s real property footprint and assists agencies by making it easier to identify and dispose of or better use underutilized property. For example, the updated data includes new data fields, such as the height of a building or structure, which helps industries identify Federal properties on which companies could potentially install communications infrastructure.

Modern Acquisition

GSA’s second strategic goal is to serve as the premier provider of efficient and effective acquisition solutions across Government. Our acquisition solutions offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, telecommunications, and information technology to Government organizations and the military. In 2019, GSA leadership focused on simplifying and streamlining access to the Federal marketplace for buyers and vendors, making operations more efficient, and modernizing systems and processes.

Interior of the U.S. General Services Administration Supply Center, 1969, Clearfield, UT; and three GSA SmartPay 3 cards
Top: U.S. General Services Administration Supply Center, 1969, Clearfield, UT. Bottom: U.S. General Services Administration oversees the issuance of 3.5 million charge cards, such as the GSA SmartPay 3 Card.

GSA uses and leverages the collective buying power of the Federal Government which facilitates more than $60 billion in business volume a year in the procurement of goods and services in support of agency customers. At the same time, GSA's acquisition teams focus on reducing contract duplication and allowing customer agencies to more effectively use their resources to fulfill their missions. For example, GSA offers a broad range of disaster support to State and local governments as well as Federal agencies like FEMA. The GSA Advantage!® website provides a host of emergency supplies and services that can be procured. Our acquisition efforts are closely aligned with FEMA and other stakeholders and our own Office of Mission Assurance is working year round to plan for expected and unexpected events to ensure effective logistics for all manner of emergency needs.

GSA’s efforts to streamline services across the Government are also seen in its signature City Pair travel program. Led by the Federal Acquisition Service, the City Pair program is one of the world’s largest negotiated contract and managed airline program. The contract delivers savings to all Federal agencies through pre-negotiated and firm-fixed-price rates. In FY 2019, the program estimates, on average, a 51-percent discount on comparable commercial travel fares. The discounted fares result in approximately $2 billion in savings annually to the American taxpayer over the cost of full-price commercial fares.

Additionally, GSA’s Office of Small Business Utilization manages programs designed to increase small business contracting opportunities with the Federal Government. GSA works diligently to ensure contracting opportunities are available to small disadvantaged businesses, businesses owned by women and service-disabled veterans, as well as those operating in historically underutilized geographic areas. In 2019, GSA awarded or maintained contracts with this vendor community valued at $1.8 billion for goods and services.

Innovative Information Technology

GSA’s third strategic goal is to improve the way Federal agencies buy, build, and use technology. The modernization of the Federal Government’s IT infrastructure and applications are important priorities of the Administration.

Technology Transformation Services is part of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Its mission is to improve the lives of the public and public servants by transforming how Government uses technology.

In partnership with the White House Office of American Innovation, GSA expanded its IT Modernization Centers of Excellence in FY 2019. Working side-by-side with tech leaders at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission and the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, GSA is helping assess agencies’ technology resources and needs. This assessment is not limited to considering the hardware and software used by agencies; instead, it takes a holistic approach and also includes a review of human resources and capital requirements prior to recommending solutions to enable agencies to better deliver on their missions.

Two men in suits in GSA's Automatic Data Processing Center, circa 1967, and close-up of hands typing on a laptop keyboard with futuristic overlay of icons and shapes
Top: U.S. General Services Administration’s Automatic Data Processing Center, circa 1967. Bottom: GSA’s third strategic goal is to improve the way Federal agencies buy, build, and use technology.

At the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a GSA Presidential Innovation Fellow used machine learning to build a tool that can automate the initial classification of many benefits claims forms, reducing the average time to establish disability claims by several days. In its first week of implementation, almost 50 percent of 8,000 forms processed with the tool were established automatically, compared to less than 2 percent before the model was put into production.

Another significant agency project, led by the Data.gov team, gives agencies the tools to make their data sets available to the public. The OPEN Government Data Act, part of the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act of 2018, mandates Federal agencies to publish all their data publicly. The team assisted Cabinet-level agencies in implementing the Open Government Data Act and will support more than 100 additional agencies as they open their data sets to the public. In addition, the law requires the Federal Data.gov Catalog to develop and maintain an online repository of tools, best practices, and schema standards to facilitate the adoption of open data practices across the Federal Government, which the team has established.

GSA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer launched its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) program in 2018 with the goal of enabling employees to focus on higher-value work, in support of the President’s Management Agenda, Cross-Agency Priority Goal 6. During FY 2019, this initiative expanded to include nearly 30 bots, which support cross-GSA operations and allow staff to perform more important work. The bots are helping to review, reconcile, analyze, and report across multiple financial processes—from audit readiness to purchase card management. In addition, GSA launched the Federal RPA Community of Practice (CoP) to accelerate RPA adoption across the Federal Government by addressing common obstacles and providing knowledge sharing and mentoring to other Federal agencies. Since its inception, the CoP has grown to include more than 600 members and over 40 Federal agencies, demonstrating the value RPA holds for the Government.

GSA also supports the operation and administration of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). First funded in fiscal year 2018, the TMF is an innovative program that provides upfront funding that allows Federal agencies to move from outdated IT systems to more secure, modern platforms. This in turn enables agencies to deliver services to the American public more quickly, better secure sensitive systems and data, and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently. In FY 2019, the Technology Modernization Board reviewed more than 30 initial project proposals from Federal agencies totaling more than $400 million in requested funds and approved 7 modernization projects totaling $89 million in project awards.

Improved Operations

Implementing expanded shared services across the Federal Government toward improved performance and increased taxpayer savings is GSA’s fourth strategic goal. In order to improve the way Government serves the American public, Government is transforming the way it does business internally. We’re discovering ways to share systems and people who support administrative functions because it makes good business sense. This kind of flexibility not only increases the efficiency of existing operations, but also allows agencies to direct more resources toward their core missions. According to the President's Management Agenda CrossAgency Priority (CAP) Goal Action Plan for FY 2019 Q3, Federal agencies spend more than $25 billion every year on administrative services such as processing hiring transactions, managing finances, closing contracts, and processing payroll. In many cases, agencies have addressed their needs by creating unique systems and processes, resulting in significant duplication across Government. For example, there are currently more than 100 systems to track the time and attendance of Federal employees. GSA is leading the effort to adopt quality shared services and, where appropriate, provide Government-wide leadership. Through this process, GSA will facilitate the creation of new standards defining which services make the most sense to share, as well as the technology needed to support the services, while ensuring GSA meets agency needs in a standard, consistent way.

Conclusion

Around the country and at every level across the agency, the people of GSA understand and take immense pride in supporting the needs of our Federal customers as well as those of the American people. Our people have a passion for delivering services and actionable solutions that deliver value across the local, State and Federal Governments. We look forward to continuing to deliver innovative solutions and increased savings in the management of real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across Government.

Last Reviewed: 2021-02-01