GSA expects draft reorg plan in May

By the end of May, the General Services Administration will have the first draft of its plan to merge the Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service, a GSA official told House lawmakers today.

A steering committee and three task forces comprised of senior GSA managers and subject matter experts have started detailing the scope of the reorganization, identifying areas of opportunity and developing proposed changes, said Stephen Perry, GSA's administrator, who testified before the House Government Reform Committee.

The teams plan to finish the first draft of a detailed reorganization and consolidation plan by May 31, and complete the final plan in July, Perry said. GSA wants to combine the FSS and FTS offices to better coordinate procurement of goods, services and technology.

The steering committee that will oversee the merger of FSS and FTS is comprised of 10 GSA executives with expertise in the agency's business lines, policies and procedures, Perry said in his testimony. The three task forces, each with at least 12 or more subject matter experts, focus on acquisition services, financial management and information technology management.

The acquisition services task force is co-chaired by Barbara Shelton, acting FTS commissioner, and Donna Bennett, FSS commissioner; the financial management team is chaired by Kathleen Turco, GSA's chief financial officer; and the IT management group is chaired by Michael Carleton, GSA's chief information officer.

GSA's reorganizations plan will not slow down the agency's "Get It Right" program or major procurement projects, including FTS Networx, Perry said. The Get It Right campaign promotes proper use of GSA contracting vehicles.

Networx is a multibillion-dollar contract for governmentwide telecommunications services that will be awarded in April 2006. GSA plans to issue the draft request for proposals for Networx next month.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the committee, has called for the restructuring of the federal government's procurement agency, because with separate FTS and FSS operations, GSA cannot coordinate its acquisition policies for technology services and products. The structure is outdated, he said.

"While the bifurcated system may have made sense two decades ago when IT investments were a relatively new phenomenon, technologies such as laptop computers, cell phones and e-mail are now as ubiquitous with office supplies as are desks and phones," Davis said. "Two separate buying organizations operating out of different funds has become a barrier to coordinated acquisition of services and the technology needed to support the total solutions agency customers demand."

Representatives from industry groups such as the Information Technology Association of America, the Contract Services Association of America, the Coalition for Government Procurement and the Professional Services Council called for more industry participation.

"It is necessary to both engage industry fully in the discussions, and even more importantly, to take a holistic view of GSA, its customers, and the panoply of interconnected issues and challenges they face," said Elaine Dauphin, vice president of GSA and GWAC programs at Computer Sciences Corp., who spoke on behalf of the Professional Services Council.

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