FSS commissioner, deputy announce retirements

The top two executives for the Federal Supply Service announced yesterday they are retiring, according to an e-mail sent today to employees, as the consolidation of the Federal Supply Service with the Federal Technology Service looms.

Donna Bennett, FSS commissioner, and Lester Gray, deputy commissioner, told FSS co-workers they will leave government. Bennett, who has been commissioner for almost five years, will retire July 3. Gray, who has been deputy commissioner since 1997, will retire today, Bennett said in a note to FSS employees.

"This will be a bittersweet moment for me, especially as I acknowledge I will be the last FSS commissioner," Bennett said in her e-mail to FSS employees. "On the one hand, it means saying goodbye to an FSS team that has proved over and over that you are talented, hard-working, customer focused, creative and compassionate when it comes to caring for one another. On the other hand, it is the beginning of a new phase in my life."

Bennett said she would take at least the summer off and then explore her opportunities.

Gray has been with GSA for 34 years. "He has been a powerful advocate for FSS on the numerous GSA Councils that plan for cross-cutting issues such as human capital development, competitive sourcing and prioritizing GSA IT investments," Bennett said in another e-mail to FSS employees. "In each of these roles, Les has applied strong values and sound business principles in a manner to which we all aspire."

GSA did not return calls asking for comment on who would be the interim FSS commissioner.

Many in industry speculated that Bennett would leave GSA when the merger of FSS and FTS was under way. But Bennett's announcement came one day after GSA administrator Stephen Perry released the draft reorganization plan detailing how the merger will work. In it, the FSS and FTS commissioner positions would be abolished and a new Federal Acquisition Service commissioner would be named.

"Whatever the outcome, I know you will carry into the new organization your positive attitudes, your can-do work ethic and the strong sense of teamwork that has gotten us to where we are today," Bennett said about the new FAS. "It is not an accident that FSS became a $40 billion-a-year business. Quite a contrast to where the service began 56 years ago, and even where we were 10 years ago."

In leading FSS, Bennett and Gray oversaw 3,000 employees and a $42 billion business that included the popular multiple award schedules, which accounted for $31.1 billion worth of sales in 2004.

Before becoming commissioner, Bennett was deputy commissioner for six years and has been with GSA in some capacity since 1983. She began her career in government in 1969 as an economist with the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Bennett's exit follows longtime FTS commissioner Sandy Bates' retirement in February, leaving GSA with a new set of leaders heading into one of the most turbulent periods of GSA's existence. Perry named Barbara Shelton interim FTS commissioner in January after Bates announced her retirement, and now there will be an interim FSS commissioner heading into the reorganization.

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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