Skip to main content

Acquisition Excellence 2013 Remarks

Remarks by 
Dan Tangherlini
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Acquisition Excellence 2013

March 21, 2013
 

 


Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m glad to be here this morning to help start ACT IAC’s Acquisition Excellence 2013. Before I go any further I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ken Allen and ACT-IAC for working with GSA to organize this very important training conference. I thank the Acquisition Excellence 2013 planning committee - both industry and federal employees - who focused on our key areas in planning this conference- innovation in acquisition and transforming the workforce. Finally, I want to thank the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Joe Jordan, for working on supporting acquisition excellence.

We all know just how tight budgets are across the government right now. Faced with one of the greatest and longest standing gaps between spending and revenue in generations, agencies are being forced to make unprecedented cuts and search for every available savings.  And sequestration has only intensified the problem.

While the challenge of sequestration may or may not be temporary, the fundamental problem that we face, the need to reconcile revenue and spending, is the environment we will be operating in for the foreseeable future. As a result, the work of the General Services Administration has never been more important than it is today.

The mission of GSA is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people. Our job is to support agencies and enable them to focus on their own important missions, like securing our borders, keeping our food safe, or protecting air quality- missions that are critical to the well-being of our country and its people.

However, it is impossible for us to deliver the kind of savings that our partner agencies need unless we are running our own agency as efficiently and effectively as possible.

When I first joined GSA last April, I ordered a Top to Bottom review that would both examine every aspect of how GSA operates and identify reforms designed to help the agency better accomplish its mission. This review gathered comprehensive feedback from employees at every level of GSA as well as from the businesses and federal agencies who work with us.
The top to bottom review revealed a widespread duplication of support services throughout the agency. In response, we are consolidating several of these administrative functions to strengthen and streamline GSA.

Aligning and streamlining central services, such as HR, IT, and Finance, will increase transparency and accountability throughout the agency. Consolidation will also improve the quality of these services for our own employees. If we can provide the most effective and efficient services possible in our own operation this will enable us to provide our partners with the consistent, common sense solutions they need.

We are committed to implementing these changes and ensuring that we get them right. We know that this requires skilled and experienced leaders. That is why over the past year GSA has made some important additions to our leadership team. Shortly after I joined GSA, we brought on Anne Rung, who will be moderating a panel later today, as our Chief Acquisitions Officer. Later in the year, we hired Dorothy Robyn as our Commissioner for the Public Buildings Services. Within the last six weeks, we have continued to move forward by adding a new Commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service and a new Chief Financial Officer.

Our new FAS Commissioner, Thomas Sharpe, brings almost 30 years of experience to GSA as an acquisition leader in both the private and public sectors. Before joining GSA he was responsible for the Department of the Treasury’s procurement policy as well as the oversight and continuous improvement of bureau procurement operations. Prior to working at Treasury, Tom had valuable experience at IBM that included playing a key role in strategically sourcing their technical service requirements, generating significant competitive advantage for the company. His work as both a vendor and a customer will give us a unique understanding of the needs of everyone involved in the procurement process.

Our new Chief Financial Officer, Michael Casella, just began working for us a few weeks ago. He has managed large and complex budgets throughout his career, making him an ideal choice to supervise GSA’s finances. Before joining us, Mike worked and the U.S. Agency for International Development and also held positions with some of GSA’s most important customer agencies.

Through renewing our leadership and realigning our central services, GSA is going through a process that will make us a much stronger business partner that is able to meet the many needs of those who work with us as efficiently and effectively as possible.  

Done right, GSA offers our partner agencies a powerful opportunity: the total buying power of the United States government. When you combine agency purchasing power, it gives GSA significant leverage to drive down prices and generate savings that benefit both the government and the American people. We have proven this on the Public Building side where we are able to use the scale of the federal government to negotiate leases that, on average, are more than 11 percent below market rates. This has created annual savings of $30 million across our leased portfolio in realized cost avoidance. By doing it once and doing it well for the entire government, GSA can generate these kinds of savings for our agency partners.

At a time when budgets are tighter than ever, the common buying platforms offered by GSA represent a significant resource for procurement officials. Right now, GSA has approximately 10% of the federal government’s market share. That’s a number that we want to increase, and we want it to increase significantly because as a government we do our work best when we do it together. By aggregating our purchasing power, GSA can not only find new solutions for our partner agencies, but reduce costs across the federal government. And its important to remember that there are other costs to using open market solutions than price. It takes roughly half as much time to use GSA’s contracting solutions as it does to set up an open market contracting option.

Each agency performing their own acquisitions is an approach that also leads to unnecessary and wasteful duplication. For example, as best we can tell, the federal government has at least 4,000 wireless agreements and 800 different wireless plans with vastly different pricing. This leads us to the unfortunate conclusion that the average family does a better job buying its cell service than the federal government.

Our consolidation, our new leadership, and programs such as strategic sourcing are ways we are working to accomplish our mission: delivering the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people. We want you to work with us to help us provide the services you need, but we also want you to challenge us to make our offerings better. Your cooperation and your ideas are essential to finding the kind of solutions that the federal government needs right now.

We are committed to the continuous evaluation of our processes to find better and more efficient ways to collaborate with you. Our work is far from done, but I am confident that, with your support, we will continue to find common sense solutions for the entire federal government. I look forward to working with all of you in the weeks and months ahead, but right now, I’m looking forward to our discussion.