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GSA at 50: Provides Low-Cost, High Quality Goods, Services and Solutions

GSA # 9594

June 29, 1999
Contact: Viki Reath (202) 501-1231

Washington, D.C. -- Nancy Potter was 16 years old and Rosamond Cardreon was 23 when they started working at the agency President Truman authorized to save taxpayers money on government goods and services on July 1, 1949.

Now, a half-century later, Potter, of Rosewood, California, and Cardreon of Arlington, Virginia, still among the U.S. General Services Administration's 14,000 employees, point to something else that has endured: GSA's dedication to serving its Federal employee customers.

"I had other job offers, but stayed because the customers felt I was making a difference," said Potter, who has moved up the ladder to become GSA's deputy budget director, working at its Washington headquarters.

Cardreon, who manages government property scheduled for disposal, says, "You have to treat a person like you like being treated, go out of your way to do things for them and give them a kind word."

In Washington to celebrate GSA's 50th Anniversary at a gala celebration at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the two "Golden-Anniversary" employees received special recognition for their 50 years of service from Administrator Dave Barram.

"GSA's 50th Anniversary celebration is, above all, a tribute to all the men and women who have served the agency over the last half century," Barram said, kicking off today's festivities, which GSA employees around the country were able to watch through electronic transmissions.

"Their dedication and commitment to excellence in customer service have enabled GSA to effectively carry out its mission. Their legacy is the foundation for the great work GSA will do in the coming century."

U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) added their congratulations in person, and President Clinton sent his congratulations in a letter.

GSA occupies a unique position in Federal government, as it heads toward the 21st century: it is the only Federal agency positioned to provide all of the elements needed for governmentwide, cutting-edge expertise required in the fast-changing, mobile Federal workforce. It has learned to save taxpayers money by using private contractors to provide some products and services and has adopted the best organizational business practices of the largest, most successful corporations to streamline its operations.

GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy provides coordination for the development of policies on acquisition, information technology, real estate, transportation and personal property that affect all Federal agencies and Federal advisory committees. In-depth expertise is available in GSA's three core services: the Public Buildings Service, Federal Supply Service, and Federal Technology Service.

GSA also has emulated the private sector by learning to do more with less. In 1974, when GSA celebrated its 25th anniversary, the agency's employees numbered 38,000. Since then, GSA has trimmed its size by more than half to achieve its current employee population of 14,000.

The result: GSA today pays fewer employees to manage assets that have grown exponentially from $11 billion in 1974 to $500 billion, or 6 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product; GSA facilitates the purchase of $57 billion-worth of purchases, about 25 percent of the total governmentwide.

The largest U.S. provider of civilian office space, GSA also has maintained its premier position as provider of products and services to more than a million Federal employee customers, even as today agencies can take their business elsewhere. GSA supplies telecommunications services to nearly every Federal department; offers lowest-cost, unrestricted travel and lodging services and lowest-cost car leasing among its transportation services. Federal employees can order 4-million items any time of the day or night by Internet. GSA also takes mail and phone orders.

Additional GSA services include quality child-care in Federal facilities; leasing, construction, renovation and management of workspace for members of Congress, U.S. Courts and agencies; security, telecommuting centers; employee credit cards for travel, fuel and small purchases; disposal of surplus Federal real and personal property; information technology and support.