Skip to main content

Bibb Highlights 2008 Challenges, Opportunities

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
ITAA 2008 Procurement Policy Strategic Planning Retreat
Loews Annapolis Hotel
Annapolis, Maryland
January 17, 2008


Thank You, Ted.

Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m very pleased to be here today for the ITAA procurement policy strategic planning retreat. We had a few procurement policy strategic planning retreats ourselves last year, all of which led to a blueprint, our new strategic plan, that has put GSA in good position for a successful year in 2008.

I thought that’s what I’d talk about today. I’m not going to sugar coat our challenges – they are formidable and numerous – but I also believe that Administrator Doan and our team have racked up some terrific achievements in the last 18 months, and that we will be able to build on them in the coming year.

Let’s take a look back before we look ahead. In 2007:

  • We reclaimed our clean audit;
  • We set an all-time record for schedule sales of over $35 billion;
  • Our FAS turned a comfortable profit;
  • We awarded several major, FAS contracts, including: Networx, Alliant, and the Vets GWAC, to name a few;
  • We revamped or eliminated many non-performing programs, saving millions of taxpayer dollars;
  • We launched a new Office of Emergency Response and Recovery;
  • We repaired and reinvigorated relationships with critical customers like DoD and the Judiciary;
  • We continued to produce award-winning structures like the San Francisco Federal Building, one of Time’s 10 most important structures of 2007, and the new Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland. Both reflect GSA’s commitment to the President’s environmental initiative, to design excellence, and to sustainable architecture.
  • We unveiled MAS Express, which has slashed the time to award contracts by three months;
  • We rekindled the entrepreneurial fire that made GSA the nation’s premier procurement agency;
  • We reaffirmed our commitment to small business;
  • We held our spot as one of the top federal workplaces;
  • We completed a major reorganization that gave rise to the Federal Acquisition Service and an intense new focus on customer service;
  • And we knocked out the aformentioned strategic plan that will successfully guide GSA through the next several years.

I believe the core of that plan – and frankly one of the keys to our success – is a commitment to speaking and performing as one GSA with One Voice.

Just what does that mean?

One GSA – One Voice is essentially an approach to everything we do at GSA. It’s a state of mind. It means that whenever we undertake a project we automatically think about whether there are opportunities to partner with other parts of GSA. When such an opportunity becomes a reality, we work so closely with our GSA counterparts that the customer sees and hears only one GSA and One Voice. It means that our employees – whether in Washington, DC or Washington state -- are always aware that they’re representing GSA, not just their service or staff office. Each of our regions has working groups that are implementing one GSA practices.  Virtually every new project team now includes both PBS and FAS members. 

Why is this so important? It’s been shown time and again that how each of us performs his or her daily work impacts many other parts of GSA. It means that the customer thinks of us as one GSA, and we should behave accordingly. That is in truth how most customers already think of us . . . A "FAS customer" orders from GSA Schedules, and a "PBS customer" pays a GSA rent bill.

So that’s the 50,000-foot view. Looking down, I see a solid foundation with walls fortified by our commitment to the same core mission and ideals, and to speaking with one, unifying voice.

Now let me drill down to some details and challenges.

Fiscal discipline is of course a key priority. Administrator Doan demonstrated her willingness to make tough choices last year by restructuring the FAS Assisted Acquisitions program. As she says, successful businesses all know it’s not enough to launch new programs; you also must have the courage and willingness to modify programs that are not successful and are not meeting expectations.

So we’re going to continue looking hard at all programs. We need to maintain our clean audit opinion for FY 2008. We need to obtain the necessary budget for our PBS construction and R&A projects. We’re going to replace our entire outmoded billing and accounts receivable module.

Transparency, integrity and accountability also bear directly on customer confidence, and so we’ll be continuing to work to quantifiably demonstrate GSA’s value add, and why we should be the federal procurement agency of choice. One giant stepping stone will be the standardization of FAS fees.

Standardized FAS fees were a necessity due to varying fees associated with assisted acquisition services that contributed to five years’ worth of losses in revenue and customers in that program.  Last July, new policy guidance was sent out to the Customer Support Centers. It established criteria and directed regions to strive to accomplish an overall average gross margin of 4 percent for the regional customer centers. 

Again, our challenges are many. Another, especially in this day and age, is information security. Commissioner Williams and FAS will be helping agencies with all their information security requirements, such as heightening Internet security while reducing the number of Internet access portals.

Delivering on our HSPD-12 commitments is another priority. OMB directed us to place 50 stations in operation by 1 January, and we have exceeded that. Our target for October 2008 is 500,000 enrollees, which is about 75 percent of the agency population that is coming to us for services.

You may also have heard about the Administrator’s great telework challenge.

We’re shooting to be the government leader when it comes to alternative workplace arrangements. We’ve appointed a Telework Czar, Bill Kelly, and our CIO, Casey Coleman, is already working hard on the many technology and security challenges. Lurita has set the bar high: she wants 20 percent of eligible employees teleworking one or more days per week by the end of this year; 40 percent by the end of 2009, and 50 percent by 2010. We’re currently at 10 percent working from home or another alternate location at least once per week, compared to a little over 4 percent for the overall federal workforce.

As GSA’s Chief Environmental Officer, I strongly agree we need to do better. Telework reduces energy use; lowers greenhouse gas emissions, reduces traffic, makes us less dependent on foreign oil, increases worker productivity and saves taxpayer dollars. Telework is also an important recruiting and retention tool that will help attract and keep talented individuals in public service. Last but not least, the ability to telework is especially critical in times of national emergency. Telework, by the way, is part of our “go green” campaign, which covers everything from fleet vehicles to new building construction.

Other challenges? Here’s one:

The proliferation of governmentwide acquisition contracts remains high on Administrator Doan’s radar screen. We believe the old Hoover Commission had it right – one agency that could leverage the buying power of the entire government providing goods, services and workspace at best value to the taxpayer. That agency is GSA, and our business remains the business of government. To borrow from the old 007 film, nobody does it better. For example, GSA’s solution based-GWACS include 8a Stars, Alliant and Alliant Small Business, Hubzone, Millennia and Millenia Lite.

I’ve barely mentioned PBS. Let me remind you of the breadth of our Public Buildings Service.

  • We have over 8,600 owned and leased assets; 
  • About 347 million square feet of (rentable) space across the U.S.;
  • An annual budget of some 8 billion dollars;
  • More than 400 historic properties;
  • And we house roughly 1 million federal employees at 60 different agencies.

PBS Commissioner Winstead’s top challenge this year is to improve GSA’s real property capital project planning and delivery. As I speak, PBS is developing project monitoring and mitigation tracking tools. They’re establishing national program standards for ownership of project data accuracy. They’re executing a national training strategy and action plan for project managers, as well as developing future leadership in the office of chief architect.

Other PBS priorities include:

• Improving GSA’s real estate leasing program by rightsizing our owned real property portfolio and identifying opportunities in our leased portfolio to achieve cost savings.  We’re achieving this by:

  • Improving the implementation of our National Broker Contract by accessing better market information to leverage the capacity to deliver leased space;
  • And by increasing focus and capacity on lease asset management. One success story from 2007 was our FBI program, where we quickly acquired customer lease space to meet the FBI’s rapid growth since 9/11. We’re working similarly on the Census 2010 program.
  • In 2008, PBS will also expand and strengthen GSA’s workspace and workplace delivery. PBS has refocused its core value proposition from space transactions and being a “provider of space” to being a “workplace solutions provider” with a customer-centric focus. By focusing on account management and addressing advanced customer requirements development, project delivery and customer demand forecasting, PBS should be well positioned to meet changing customer demands.  
  • Another priority is to explore ways to leverage funding of real property capital projects to help offset the growing burden of capital funds. We are promoting increased investment in real property through the use of alternative financing options. This appears to be our best opportunity to support further investment and reinvestment in our portfolio in the future.

Challenging initiatives like the ones I’ve mentioned of course languish unless the workforce is engaged.

So another challenge this year is keeping everyone fired up. GSA remains one of the top-ranked federal workplaces. We take great pride in that and are constantly trying to get better.

  • We’ve begun a new mentoring program that pairs talented, experienced employees with protégés who need to enhance their leadership and other business skills;
  • We offer a student loan repayment program;
  • We offer alternative work schedules; and we try to make sure employees have everything they need to get the job done, including electronic access to training programs.

And here’s another one, kind of intangible, but I think very important. Lurita has brought new energy and creativity to our in-house celebrations of special events like Hispanic Heritage Month and our tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I can’t begin to tell you how many talented singers, dancers and musicians we have at GSA, and how willing they’ve been to share their gifts in this encouraging environment.

I’m going to mention one last item and save the rest of the time for any questions you might have.

We all know the commercial housing industry has taken a sharp downturn. We also know that our land ports of entry – formerly known as border stations – have not nearly kept pace with trade and travel along our northern and southern borders. Years of inadequate action coupled with explosive growth in trade with Mexico and Canada have turned too many ports of entry into large parking lots.  Legitimate trade and travel are bogged down in mile-long delays that sometimes extend for more than six hours. Administrator Doan’s answer is a building boom in 2008 at our U.S. Land Ports of Entry. The goal is simple: expand capacity and build new facilities and improve existing infrastructure where needed most, as fast as possible. As money is tight, she has some innovative ideas about public-private partnerships that you’ll be hearing about soon. For now, GSA currently has 26 land port projects underway at a value of about $640 million.

I know I’ve touched on many subjects today. Let me sum up with a quote by Thomas Edison.

Edison said: "Opportunity is missed by most because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work."

While I can’t predict the future, I can guarantee you this: we’re not going to miss opportunity because it looks like work. While there is fiscal discipline, there is also entrepreneurial energy. Our sleeves are rolled up and I believe we’re poised to make 2008 a historic year for GSA.

Thank you very much.