U.S. Visit's Williams to become commissioner of FAS

Jim Williams, a veteran of some of the government's toughest programs, will be leaving the Homeland Security Department to join the General Services Administration as commissioner of the new Federal Acquisition Service. Williams is currently program director of the $1.1 billion U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology project.

Williams said he had had discussions with GSA's new administrator, Lurita Alexis Doan, who took over the agency last Wednesday, about heading up the new organization, which Congress officially created in April.

In making the move, Williams leaves a DHS organization of 115 people, to lead one of 4,000. The Federal Acquisition Service is a relatively new piece of GSA, formed by combining the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services. The combined services resell more than $35 billion worth of goods and services each year via numerous contracting programs.

The Federal Acquisition Service, like the U.S. VISIT program, is highly visible and touched by politics and controversy. But Williams, a career official, is used to such programs. He was deputy associate commissioner of the IRS, where he was program manager in tax agency's Business Systems Modernization Office. Before that he was the IRS's procurement director.

G. Martin Wagner has been acting commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service since November, having moved over from GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy, where he was associate administrator.

Wagner likely would return to his position with OGP, where John Sindelar had been acting in his place.

Williams is leaving U.S. Visit after a successful run of almost three years. The biometric entry part of the program has been implemented at 115 airports, 15 seaports and 154 land ports. The exit part of the program still is in the pilot stage with 12 airports and two seaports, according to the U.S. Visit Web site.

Bob Mocny is the deputy director of U.S. Visit and likely would take over as the program's director.

In taking over as FAS commissioner, Williams inherits a new organization that needs some inspiration. GSA is still feeling the effects of its contracting irregularities of a few years ago, the abandonment of many of its customers due to increased oversight, the renewed popularity of agency-specific multiple-award contracts and the combination of retirement or transfers of many key and long-time personnel. Doan recently said GSA must refocus on its customers to provide the best service possible.

While the schedules still are growing?GSA officials recently said sales are up 5 percent over last year?the rate of growth is lower than previously. And Williams' biggest challenge will be bringing customer agencies back to GSA's IT Solutions shop under the former Federal Technology Service, where sales are expected to drop to $2.8 billion this year from $3.6 billion last year in the regions.

GSA officials hope congressional approval of the One Fund, which combines the IT and General Supply funds would make buying IT as a part of a larger purchase easier and more attractive to agencies. The House has passed the GSA Modernization Act, but the full Senate has yet to vote on the bill.

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