Shelton to be acting commissioner of new FAS

The General Services Administration has named Barbara Shelton to be the acting head of the new Federal Acquisition Service.

Shelton, who has been the acting commissioner of the Federal Technology Service since February, will assume her new role before Oct. 1.

David Bibb, GSA's deputy administrator, said earlier this month that the agency would establish FAS?which will combine FTS and the Federal Supply Service?before the end of the fiscal year.

Some on Capitol Hill already are expressing displeasure with the decision.

"It's disappointing that GSA has chosen to appoint someone to head its new Federal Acquisition Service who has virtually no federal acquisition experience and no standing whatsoever in the federal acquisition community," said a senior congressional source who is familiar with GSA and who requested anonymity.

The source also added that Perry's decision is troubling because of Shelton's background as head of GSA's mid-Atlantic region for three years.

"Don't they realize that it was the pervasive acquisition mismanagement by GSA's regions that motivated the House's passage of the GSA Modernization Act, which authorized the new Federal Acquisition Service? Ironic indeed," the source added.

But Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement, a Washington trade association, said Shelton's ascension was not surprising.

"Ms. Shelton has been the strongest guiding force of the GSA reorganization," he said. "The draft plan is unmistakably her plan, and by appointing her at least on an acting basis, Perry is giving her the opportunity to implement it. The jury is still out to whether this plan will lead to an improve agency."

Allen also said the Hill criticism was somewhat unfair, especially since Shelton's region was among the best and did not have the procurement problems of the others. But he added that Shelton is not well known within the broader acquisition community.

"She may not have all the procurement stripes on her shoulders, but from our interaction with her, she is a sound business manager and has a grasp on what it takes to run a large organization," Allen said. "The key to her success is to make the best use of the people around her with experience. She has opportunity to surround herself with people who have experiences that she does not. Lets hope that happens."

GSA earlier this month released a draft reorganization strategy that detailed how the agency will consolidate FTS and FSS into FAS. Shelton and outgoing FSS Commissioner Donna Bennett led the reorganization.

"Barbara has been a key leader on the team that has worked to develop the draft plan for the very challenging task of consolidating FTS and FSS into FAS," said Stephen Perry, GSA administrator. "Through her leadership and expertise, she has contributed significantly to the effort to develop an FAS organization which will meet [several] key objectives."

Perry added that Shelton's appointment as acting commissioner will help with a smooth transition to the new organization.

Prior to joining GSA, she served as deputy secretary for administration in the Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Department and the deputy secretary for procurement in the state's General Services Department.

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

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