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Doan takes Oath of Office

As prepared for delivery

REMARKS BY
LURITA ALEXIS DOAN
ADMINISTRATOR
U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
OATH OF OFFICE CEREMONY SPEECH
5/31/06

 

Judge Roberts, employees of the General Services Administration:  Good Afternoon.

Please let me say thank you in advance to Norman Wear, President of GSEA and Jerome Malvin, President and CEO of the GSA Federal Credit Union for graciously providing the refreshments after this ceremony.

I am honored to come before you today as President Bush’s choice, confirmed by the Senate, to lead the General Services Administration and as the first woman to be nominated to hold this position.  The Administrator of GSA is an important position of trust, and I value the President’s confidence in me.

I’d like to thank the members of the Executive team for the time, and the briefings during this nomination period.  I would especially like to thank Alan Swendiman for his assistance early on in the application process and his tireless efforts handling the necessary paperwork.  In addition, Larrilyn Bertocchio, Tom Dryer and Emily Baker were instrumental in assisting me with the Senate confirmation hearings.

I remain an unabashed entrepreneur, and believe strongly that an organization either succeeds or fails based on its ability to inspire personal initiative and get people to work toward common goals.  I have been concerned in recent weeks that GSA employees have not always had clear guidance on what those shared goals are, and what is expected of them in order to succeed at achieving those goals. I will commit to you today to provide clear and unequivocal guidance regarding the direction GSA is heading and what my expectations are.

I’ll work diligently to create a culture of excellence at GSA that approaches its federal and private sector customers as an entrepreneur would – with energy, a willingness to innovate and change, while delivering superior service.  GSA and its employees have a proud history, and can forge an important future as the premier government agency for property management and procurement.  But, I feel it essential that GSA return to its entrepreneurial roots and both encourage and reward those who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and who speak up with innovative ideas.

I have set the following goals:

  • Return to President Truman’s vision for GSA -- a clean, honest and responsive purchasing agency -- utilizing best practices in government contracting and serving as an example and resource to other agencies.
  • Establish quantitative performance metrics to show how GSA services stack up – this means transparency--tracking of time to contract, costs, and compliance with procurement regulations.
  • Sell GSA services.  I believe that GSA can provide services quantifiably better, faster, and save taxpayers’ dollars. GSA must do a better job of proving this and thus enable government agencies to refocus scarce management and contracting resources on their core issues.
  • Make GSA one of the best places to work in government.  I will welcome and encourage new ideas, reward superior performance and aggressively recruit gifted people into government service.

I’ve seen firsthand that GSA now spends less time directly with its government customers.  Frankly guys, that has to stop.  Knowing your customer, spending time with customers, understanding their requirements is one of the first requirements of superior customer service.  And, it’s no secret that GSA has some fence mending to do with some of its biggest federal clients.  I intend to make this a priority, and will emphasize the SERVICE in the General Services Administration.

Federal agencies are not GSA’s only customer.  Businesses, both large and small, often bring government customers to GSA and rely upon GSA for assistance in finding the correct contracting vehicle.  We have to respect these businesses for their marketing efforts and work with them to satisfy their government client’s requirements.  We have to respect them because marketing is hard work and without their additional efforts, GSA revenues would not be able to grow as we hope them to grow in upcoming years.

I’m eager to improve GSA’s response in emergencies.  I’m from New Orleans, and grew up in the 9th ward.  My childhood home was completely destroyed, as was every home within a two-mile radius.  Hurricane Katrina created challenges for many agencies, including GSA.  I will be focused on improving GSA’s ability to respond quickly when the next emergency arises.   GSA’s ability to leverage the power of the private sector and quickly contract for goods and services can make an enormous difference for people in distress during national emergencies.  

I’m a strong believer that government should do a better job of tapping the energy and creativity of America’s small businesses.  Many of these produce the innovative, transformational solutions that the government seeks, and the GSA Schedule is often the first government contract for these businesses.  I will work to expedite the time required to award a GSA schedule.  

I welcome the opportunity to oversee the reorganization of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).  Regardless of size, reorganizations are not easy for they strike at the core of what constitutes the mission, the position and the stability of each employee.  The reorganization, properly executed, can result in a stronger GSA, able to offer faster contracting services at a lower cost and yet fully compliant with existing procurement regulations. 

While it is true that Rome was not built in a day, every action does begin with but a single step.  There are 24 hours in a day--25 if you skip lunch--and I intend to make every moment count. 

Success in business and government is often a function of the quality of the people and the level of effort expended.  I have always respected GSA employees’ commitment, their work ethic and their willingness to serve.  I look forward to working again with many of these fine people and the rest of GSA’s dedicated personnel, while having the opportunity to lead by example, providing transparency and clear guidance to GSA’s employees.

By making me the first female nominee to this important post, the President has shown great confidence in my abilities. I am humbled and honored by his confidence. 

I give you my commitment to clear and frequent communications, my strong resolve to make GSA now and for the future, the premier source for cost-effective, timely and compliant property management and government procurement.

These are going to be exciting times at GSA and I am eager to help each of your rekindle the entrepreneurial energies to make this organization a success.  I know we face some serious challenges, long hours and hard work and can’t wait to get started.  I have participated in the government contracting process for over a decade.  My focus has always been on integrity, hard work and customer service.  For over 10 years, I worked closely with GSA and had the opportunity to understand this organization from the ground up, the way a customer views it.  As a result, I understand the challenges GSA faces; I understand the system, the process and I know many of the people who will be working to manage these challenges.  As someone who has worked closely with most of the GSA Regional offices over the past 15 years I have a firm understanding of what is possible and I am not afraid to lead this agency forward.

Together we will restore GSA’s leadership as the premier contracting and service provider.  To be the best, we are going to need to improve all of our services and better understand and anticipate the requirements of our customers.  But we can do it.

And when we are able to improve all of our services and offer our federal customers fast contracting at lower costs and with full compliance, we need to make sure that our customers know it.  They need to know GSA is saving taxpayer money. 
This is Our task, Our challenge, and Our great shared opportunity.

I want to hear your ideas on how to improve our operations.  As an entrepreneur, I find new ideas exciting and will work to adopt the good ones and laugh, with you, at the bad ones. 

They tell me that I am now Madam Administrator, but I hope over the next few years, you will simply call me Lurita.  It is your ideas and hard work I value, not any title.  I am so proud to be the first woman to lead this agency and as the great poet, Mick Jagger said, “Start Me Up!”