Bibb Addresses Information Technology Association of America

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)
Tampa, Florida
March 23, 2006

Good evening. It’s a pleasure to be with you for ITAA’s annual strategic planning retreat. As you know, we’ve been doing a little strategic planning ourselves at GSA. And, as former Administrator Steve Perry told you last June, input from our industry partners has been – and remains - very important to the process.

That planning – the objective, optimistic reasoning behind it, the solid place I expect it to lead us, and how it will improve our ability to serve our customer agencies and the American public – will be the subject of my remarks this evening.

If you were to take certain news reports at face value, you might be surprised that I’m here at the podium instead of back home pumping water out of the Good Ship GSA.

Is there some bad news? Yes, so let’s deal with that first. The period of huge growth enjoyed by GSA’s Integrated Technology Solutions in the area of assisted technology buys from 1999 to 2004 certainly appears to be over. In Fiscal 2005, revenues fell 16 percent. This year, first quarter revenues are down even more from the same period last year.

On the other hand, our sales from all Federal Supply Schedules, including IT, are up 5 percent through the first three months of this fiscal year versus last year. Our telecom network sales remain very strong.

There are several reasons for the downturn in assisted IT acquisitions. We have more competition because some agencies have opted to “do it themselves.” Also, Congressional legislation and correct application of procurement funds required us to slow down and “Get It Right.”

We have done a thorough analysis and can point to many obstacles that knocked us off track. The bottom line, though, is that we have a cost structure in the Federal Technology Service that is well out of line with our business volume. That has required considerable self-scrutiny.  We’re holding expenses down and will offer buyouts to about 400 associates as soon as OPM and OMB give us the go-ahead.

The good news is that we’re taking the steps necessary to ensure that our assisted technology business – and, in fact all of GSA - remain a valued and vibrant part of the federal acquisition community.  We are making great progress in winning congressional approval of our reorganization plan combining FTS and FSS, and hope to get an official green light very soon. There’s more good news coming as well on the performance of our Client Service Centers. I’m optimistic that this news will help us reclaim some of the business we lost.

To be clear, I have no doubt that GSA can, should and will remain the government’s premier acquisition agency.

As I reminded our associates earlier this week, GSA performs a critical function for this nation. Our work has ramifications people don’t always think about, and which don’t often make headlines.

When we provide supplies to FEMA and call center services after a natural disaster, we help fellow citizens often facing the darkest moments of their lives. By the way, our call centers took over a million calls after Katrina.

When we assist the Department of Defense with supplies and services, we help our men and women in uniform who put themselves in harm’s way fighting for the ideals we all hold dear.

And when we serve the Judiciary by delivering a new federal courthouse, the economic ripple extends well into the surrounding community, often creating many new opportunities for individuals and businesses. Just today, FBI Director Robert Mueller personally congratulated me on the new FBI field office we just delivered in Tampa, and on the work we’re doing for the FBI around the nation.

I could cite many more examples. Instead, I’ll say that GSA’s ability to deliver goods and services at best value, our growing capacity to anticipate customer needs, and our focus on providing expert solutions all make our agency as important as at any time in our 57-year history. But it must be a GSA running at peak efficiency.

That is why our strategic retreats – there were many, by the way, none in sunny Florida - produced the landmark reorganization plan that will position GSA to meet and, importantly, anticipate our customers’ needs today and in the future.

I’m speaking primarily of the new Federal Acquisition Service. The FAS vision, similar to the GSA mandate, is to enable agencies to focus on their core missions by serving as the government’s shared support services provider.

The leaner FAS will have fewer management and supervisory positions, meaning that most associates will be focused on direct service to customers.  The structure will reflect clear lines of authority, accountability and responsibility, and will be consistent across national and zonal offices to make it easier for customers to do business with GSA.

Remember, we’re not into FAS yet, so there will be a transition period. Business decisions must still be made, and work must be done within the existing FTS and FSS structures.

Each of the five FAS business lines, like the FAS Travel, Motor Vehicle and Card Services Line, the General Supply and Service Benefits Line, and the Customer Accounts and Research lines, will yield important new benefits for our customers.

Let me mention one that might be of particular interest to ITAA members.

The new FAS Integrated Technology Service benefits:

  • Program development and management is consolidated to foster integrated approaches for complementary solutions to satisfy the full range of customer acquisition and technology needs. (i.e., IT, networks and professional services).
  • IT Multiple Award Schedule and GWAC programs will have active program development and managers looking at duplications among vehicles, and how to make them more rational and complementary.
  • Integrated reporting of contracting officers will foster development of knowledge, enable better negotiations and consistency toward suppliers, and provide for flexibility in workload balancing.
  • We will experience improved customer interface and enhanced delivery of best value across government by normalizing national and regional service delivery points for consistency of process and procedures.
  • And, a stronger concept development function will encourage more forward thinking and innovation to achieve balance and maximize value across programs.

The new FAS Acquisition Management Office is dedicated to contract integrity and a consistently positive customer experience. It also:

  • Ensures the consistent application of excellent acquisition policy across FAS;
  • Works with the GSA Business Portfolios on acquisition vehicle rationalization;
  • Ensures FAS takes appropriate steps for regulatory compliance of programs to include socioeconomic and environmental needs; and
  • Helps enhance vendor performance and relationships, and customer satisfaction.

I hope you can see very clearly that the Good Ship GSA did not run flush into an iceberg at sea. The changes underway may seem unsettling, but they are necessary. And I believe that history will judge this to be a time that GSA reinvented itself to the great benefit of our customers and our citizens.

Don’t overlook the past. GSA has always emerged stronger after similar periods of adjustment. Success was possible because of our worldclass workforce, because we kept pushing forward, and because we had a solid foundation.

The foundation is no less solid today. The Public Buildings Service is in excellent financial shape and continues, through our Design Excellence Program, to produce legacy buildings that express the vision, leadership, and commitment of the government to serving the public and the values of the nation. PBS has also made GSA the only agency to get to green on the section of the President’s Management Agenda that addresses real property asset management.

We continue to play a critical role in homeland defense and disaster relief. Our Federal Supply Service schedule business and award-winning gateway to government information and services are further examples of good news, as are GSA-run child care centers, and the successful and dignified restoration of the African Burial Ground in New York City, recently declared a National Monument by President Bush. I am also personally proud that GSA remains one of the top-rated places to work in the government, according to an independent survey of federal workers.

Last, though substantive change always takes time, the action plan we implemented to address contracting and funds-management deficiencies has already paid dividends. I fully expect our inspector general to soon verify that we have been very successful in reforming our procurement practices, which will demonstrate credibility and win future clients concerned about proper contracting and handling of agency funds. GSA will continue to focus on the customer (taxpayer and agency) and improve on timeliness as we settle into a balanced approach to excellent acquisitions.  We are committed to maintaining and deploying a workforce knowledgeable about the needs of the federal acquisition community.

Our chief objective this year, then, is to reverse any trends of declining revenue, and to more firmly establish GSA as the federal community’s agency of choice when it comes to acquiring goods, services and other workplace needs.

Please be assured that while the water ahead may be a little choppy, it is nowhere near the engine room. Know as well that we’ll be counting on our industry partners to help us move GSA into the bright future that I know lies ahead.

Thank you very much.

Last Reviewed 2010-04-30