Lawmakers concerned GSA reorganization will cause confusion

A key congressional committee remains skeptical over the General Services Administration's recent moves to reorganize.

GSA in September began merging its two procurement organizations into a single new entity called the Federal Acquisition Service.

But the results are confusing, said John Brosnan, procurement counsel for the House Government Reform Committee. Area regional administrators may have to report to regional administrators as well as to the service's commissioner. The committee is "not exactly clear on how those reporting lines are going to work," he said last week during a Northern Virginia Technology Council event.

The GSA plan also preserves more regional autonomy than the committee would like, Brosnan said. The House in May approved legislation sponsored by committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., that would further strengthen headquarters' control.

GSA is still "working out where those direct reporting relationships are and where those dotted line relationships are," said Barbara Shelton, acting Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, also speaking at the event. Differences between the House committee and the agency will be openly resolved, both Brosnan and Shelton said.

The House bill (H.R. 2066) would also combine the funds for the two old procurement organizations -- the Federal Supply Service and the Federal Technology Service. This cannot be done without legislative approval.

"The melding of the funds is key," Brosnan said, taking a position GSA officials and others in the procurement community also have stressed. Reorganization without combining the funds is like "expecting Babe Ruth to hit all the homers he hit, while giving him a toothpick to do it," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Davis' bill remains under consideration by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. A spokeswoman said the bill will come up for consideration the next time the committee holds a markup session.

Brosnan said he is cautiously optimistic that the Senate will pass the bill by the end of the year, but some senators have decried what they see as a move to overly centralize the agency. A provision in the Senate version of the fiscal 2006 Transportation-Treasury spending bill blocks GSA from using appropriated funds to change its organization without approval from both chambers' appropriations committees.

Included in the accompanying report is a warning that the Senate Appropriations Committee believes eliminating some of the regional organization could result in too much headquarters power. "Regional authority and decision-making ultimately is necessary to ensure that clients are adequately served," the report said.

"Limiting the number of regional executives will limit GSA's flexibility and ability to meet local needs and requirements," it stated.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.