Panel: Morale and discipline top GSA needs

A top priority for the new administrator of the General Services Administration should be fixing morale and process problems, according to industry members of a panel at Wednesday's Washington Technology Top 100 Conference.

Lurita Doan took over the top spot at GSA earlier this month. The procurement agency has had problems in recent years with management in some of its field offices and contracts as well as diminishing business through some of its vehicles.

"She needs to bring a better discipline that may have been lost there," said Michael Del-Colle, senior manager for federal contract, policy and compliance at Accenture Ltd.

Del-Colle said it is important to remember that GSA provides two primary tools that compliment each other. One is the schedule contracts that are quick and easy for agencies to use. The other is assisted services for acquisitions such as GSA's large multiple award contracts that agencies can use when developing more complex projects.

"That's an important distinction," he said.

Led by Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, the panel took on the myriad issues raised by large multiple award contracts. Beside GSA's future in contracting, the panel also discussed the pressures on midtier companies and the growing use of earned value management systems as a requirement for contractors.

Another theme was the transition from governmentwide contracts to large agency specific contracts.

The fear among industry is to lose of one of those contracts with an important customer. "It could be suicidal," said Linda Allan, executive vice president of NCI Information Systems Inc., Reston, Va.

But she said she expects more agencies to issue their own multiple award contracts because budget pressures will make paying GSA's fees look unattractive.

Agency specific contracts also are attractive because they allow an agency to design a vehicle that meets their needs, said Jerry Punderson, director of undersea systems contracts division for the Naval Sea Systems Command. The Navy last year awarded Seaport Enhanced, a $5.3 billion with more than 500 contractors competing for task orders.

"Seaport-E was not set up to serve other agencies," he said. "You just can't say, 'Poof' and tell other agencies, 'Here it is go ahead and use it.'"

Despite the growth of agency-specific contracts, GSA's contracts will continue to play an important role for agencies. For example, the Education Department is using the schedules to develop a procurement for its grants management systems, said Glenn Perry, director of contracts and acquisition management at Education.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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