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Administrator Addresses Coalition for Government Procurement

As prepared for delivery


Remarks By
Lurita Alexis Doan
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Coalition for Government Procurement 2006 Spring Conference
McLean, VA
June 5, 2006


Good morning.

First, let me say that it is a pleasure to be here with so many business leaders.  During my confirmation hearings – was that only two weeks ago? - I told the Senate Committee that I am a proud advocate for the role that business plays in making GSA a success. Business is where I started, where my roots are, and where I feel most at home…So, thanks for the invitation to speak.

Now, may I ask, how many of you are on the GSA schedule?

C’mon—I want a show of hands!

Now, the rest of you have some work to do. When I come back next year, I would like to know that all of you have your offerings on the GSA schedule, where they can be purchased and easily acquired by the federal government.  The federal government needs the innovative products and services that all of you represent and I want all of you to know that This Administrator intends to be your champion!

I also know that GSA has some work to do to make the process of obtaining a GSA schedule and keeping it up to date much faster and more efficient for small and mid-sized companies.

Many say it takes too long to get on the schedule.  It takes too long to make necessary modifications, and too often the bureaucratic process is intimidating.  

But----

I am committing to you today that we are going to fix these pesky issues.  GSA is going to take a hard look at the existing process and we are going to make substantial improvements. I believe that the GSA schedule is already a good example of best practices. We are moving on this immediately and I will not rest until it is possible for a business to get a basic GSA schedule within 30 days.  It will take some work, and it will take a little time, but we are going to get it done.

To accomplish this goal, though, I’m going to need your help.  Many of you have ideas and suggestions that will help us improve our processes and speed our service.

I need every good idea I can get and I would like to specifically request that the Coalition for Government Procurement form a working group to come up with a list of suggested improvements and recommendations that you have for needed reforms.

Fixing this problem and making real changes that will speed the process – thus enabling federal agencies to more easily acquire your innovative products and services - will take your help.  Can I count on you to take this up?

Oh, and can I ask you to get this first list of recommended improvements to me within the next 30 days?  Time is short and I am anxious to get moving. 

Of all the questions that I was asked during the confirmation process, only one really vexed me, and it was from a reporter.  He sort of sneered and asked what good a degree in Renaissance Literature ---  from Vassar, no less-- was going to be in leading a big organization like GSA. 

Well I’ll tell you. The Renaissance was about ideas and about change. Everyone knew it was a transformational time, a period of great importance, a period of rebirth.

GSA is no different.

I am excited by new and better ideas and believe that every single operation and process within GSA can be improved. This comment isn’t a negative.  It is the first step in helping an organization move from good to great.

I find new ideas invigorating.  Moreover, I am not afraid of change. 

The great writers, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson (if you don’t k now who they are, just e-mail me and I’ll be happy to give you my top 10 faves!)

The great writers, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson during the Renaissance captured these themes better than anyone. 

And above all else, I believe it is FACTA, NON VERBA that matter the most.  That’s Latin for, “Deeds not Words.” 

Actions have value.  And to truly return GSA to its original mandate for being the best practitioner of government contracting we will need to act.  

I’m sure that there may be a lot of good lawyers and political wonks with a lot more subject specific knowledge than I, but folks. This Renaissance Lit major is absolutely unafraid to take whatever actions are needed to make GSA a truly great organization.

One thing we all know to be true is that people want to work in an organization that values entrepreneurial thinking.  People run from organizations that have a culture of “not invented here.” 

Organizations that can reach out and welcome successful ideas and better reward hard and innovative work are exciting places to be. Yes, GSA has some challenges.  I know that and so do all of you. 

But I also know that on any given day of the week, GSA processes and awards more contracts than any other government agency—and we always will.  GSA can solve its problems and we can rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit within GSA and make it and exciting and fun place to serve. 

I am particularly pleased to have recruited Jim Williams back to GSA as the first Commissioner of FAS.  Jim brings a wealth of talent, entrepreneurial energy and a passion for excellence.  Jim brings the following:

  • He’s a recognized leader in government contracting;
  • Not only does he understand best practices, he has helped to create and define the standard for superior contracting. He now brings that expertise to GSA.
  • Jim has experience with high-level, complicated contracts.
  • He has experience with Homeland Security management, and I will depend on his expertise to retool GSA’s ability to better respond during periods of national emergency when GSA services and ability to quickly contract for services is most needed.
  • Jim brings an entrepreneurial spirit and new ideas that I value.
  • Jim has experience in building an organization and managing complex reorganizations. He will need all those skills in setting up FAS.

I am proud and thankful to have him as my right arm.

Jim Williams, as the first Commissioner of FAS, is just what the doctor ordered--- don’t you think?

Over the next few days and weeks you can expect that I am going to move quickly on the following priorities:

  • Returning to the original mission of GSA, with a specific focus on best practices in government contracting.  I understand that we’ll need to reexamine all of our processes and procedures and implement improvements across the board. We can do that, and we can do it even faster and more effectively if organizations like the Coalition for Government Procurement are committed to being a real partner and helping. 
  • I will establish and rely upon quantitative performance metrics to measure exactly how GSA services stack up:  time to contract, costs, and compliance.
  • Where GSA services are clearly better, faster, and cheaper, GSA needs to present that business case to federal customers and the private sector to clearly demonstrate the taxpayer savings from GSA services.
  • In addition, by offering better faster, cheaper services to federal customers, GSA can help other federal agencies guard precious taxpayer dollars and refocus scarce management and contracting resources on their core issues.
  • I hope to make GSA one of best places to work in the government.  I will value the contribution of employees, and welcome and reward new ideas.  I will aggressively recruit gifted young people into government service.   (Watch out Larry, I’m probably going to have to go after Kathy Coulter!)
  • I am especially eager, to improve GSA’s ability to respond to procurement requirements in emergencies.  I am from New Orleans, and grew up in the 9th ward.  My house, like all those in a 2-mile radius was completely destroyed... GSA’s best practices and superior abilities to quickly contract for goods and services are of particular importance during periods of national emergencies.  We are going to retool our abilities to respond during periods of national emergency

And you can expect some real innovative ideas on this within the next few days.  

Let me close by thanking you for the invitation to speak.  I am excited by the opportunities at GSA and so very honored by President Bush’s faith in an entrepreneur with a small business background…even if I do have a Masters in Renaissance lit.   

I am not too proud to admit that I am going to need your help to succeed, but I know that this success will yield rewards for the business community. 

Above all, I believe that GSA’s future is bright and the possibilities are endless. 

Carpe Momentum!

 


Coalition for Government Procurement 2006 Spring Conference