Two top GSA officials retire as agency awaits new chief

Mary Powers-King and Tyree Varnado have almost 70 years of combined service

The General Services Administration is experiencing a version of musical chairs by some of its executives, even as the agency continues to await Senate confirmation of Martha Johnson as its new administrator.

GSA announced today that Mary Powers-King, director of governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) and information technology schedule programs in the Integrated Technology Service, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), will retire Jan. 3.

Powers-King has spent 31 years in the federal government.

No successor has been named, but some GSA observers say an appropriate replacement would be Jim Ghiloni, Powers-King’s chief assistant as deputy office director for GWACs.

But Ghiloni also is reported to be heading for GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, other sources say.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, said he does not see serious problems for the agency caused by Powers-King’s retirement.

“In her particular area, that’s a pretty stable area within GSA,” he said.

On Dec. 10, Federal News Radio reported that Tyree Varnado, deputy commissioner for GSA’s FAS, also will retire Jan. 3, after nearly 40 years of government service.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s nomination  to be GSA administrator has languished in the Senate since President Barack Obama named her to head the agency in April. She had been vice president of culture at Computer Services Corp. since 2007.

GSA has been without a permanent administrator since Lurita Doan resigned in April 2008.

Since then three officials have held the title of acting administrator.

“I don’t think there is any evidence that GSA is terribly handicapped by the delay in the appointment of Martha Johnson,” Suss said. “On the other hand, it certainly is better for an agency to have the administrator to have the direct access to the administration.”

Suss added that the agency has since shown it can handle high priority issues without a permanent administrator, and he cited the work of Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Technology Services Ed O’Hare.

“[He] has focused not only on high-priority areas like the Networx transition but has also completed putting together some deals that are very important and innovative like the [Future Comsatcom Services Acquisition] contract with [the the Defense Information Systems Agency],” Suss said.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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