Over the next several weeks, I will be focusing on the “Thirteen Thoughts for 2013” set forth in the January 14th blog post.  This week the focus is on Thought No. 1:  “Is GSA’s Mission Impossible Possible?”

On January 14th Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini issued a Memorandum announcing a new mission statement and priorities for GSA.  As Acting Administrator Tangherlini noted in the memorandum, at a time of fiscal challenges and shrinking budgets, GSA’ role as the central procurement agency for the federal government has never been more important.

The new mission statement sets forth a simple, yet powerful business case:  “The mission of GSA is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.”   Indeed, one can’t imagine a clearer, more focused vision regarding GSA’s role.   Moreover, the six priorities identified in the memorandum provide a sound framework for GSA to fulfill its mission statement.  The priorities are:  (1) Delivering Better Value and Savings; (2) Serving our Partners; (3) Expanding Opportunities for Small Business; (4) Making a More Sustainable Government; (5) Leading with Innovation; and (6) Building a Stronger GSA.  At the same time, the new mission statement is the first step on the journey.  The Coalition looks forward to working with GSA towards common sense solutions that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of GSA’s acquisition programs.

Commercial best practices inform us that the key metric in measuring and delivering best value in procurement/logistics operations is total ownership cost.  In government terms, let’s use the term, “total acquisition cost (TAC).”  Many elements go into determining “TAC.”  Direct and indirect costs must be measured.  Any structural, operational and/or organizational efficiencies resulting from an acquisition must be measured.  Cycle time to acquire the service or product also must be measured.  Contract duplication costs have to be identified as cost components of TAC.  Costs associated with government unique requirements that are inconsistent with commercial practice must be considered.  The costs of data reporting and management must be identified.  Indeed, a strategic approach to TAC means that all identifiable and appropriate acquisition costs are considered and reported to the key stakeholders.  Focusing merely on prices provides a “placebo effect” and does not provide a total cost to the taxpayer because pricing alone is not TAC.

By keeping a full, clear focus on the identification and measurement of TAC, GSA can set operational goals that reflect the mission of delivering “best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.”  Such an approach can be the impetus for a top down review of GSA’s government-wide acquisition programs.  Identifying and reducing government unique requirements whose costs outweigh the benefits is central to reducing TAC.  In particular, streamlining the acquisition process by reinvigorating commercial item contracting will be a huge multiplier in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system.   Moreover, as the manager of the government’s largest commercial item contracting program, the Multiple Award Schedule program, GSA is uniquely positioned to bring increased efficiencies to the procurement of commercial services and products.

The Coalition looks forward to working with GSA to ensure that the taxpayer’s money is obligated using sound business opportunities that deliver best value for customer agencies and the American people.

The Administrator’s new Mission Statement positions the agency to make GSA’s mission possible!