It is with great pleasure that the Coalition for Government Procurement recognizes the Senate’s confirmation of Robin Carnahan this past Wednesday to serve as Administrator of General Services. A former Missouri Secretary of State, Ms. Carnahan is no stranger to the federal market or to GSA. Indeed, she served in leadership of the innovative technology consulting initiative at 18F for four years beginning in the Obama Administration. In that role, she advised government entities on modernizing and digitizing systems and procuring those systems efficiently.
Ms. Carnahan’s confirmation brings great hope for the government contracting community. In addition to her understanding of technology, Ms. Carnahan possess a great appreciation of the role of GSA in supporting the agencies that serve this nation. As she said in her testimony,
[N]o program passed by this Congress can be fully effective without smart investments in an effective, secure digital infrastructure to deliver it. GSA is uniquely positioned to support that delivery mission across government.
She also recognized that, “GSA is about much more than technology,” and she envisions the opportunity to improve service delivery to partners in real estate and acquisition. In short, Ms. Carnahan brings a refreshing perspective on the positive role GSA can play in facilitating efficiency across government.
The Coalition shares that perspective. For instance, we see the tremendous good derived from the Multiple Award Schedules Program (Schedules), which GSA has determined is the largest purchasing program on the planet. As a purchasing channel, the Schedules accounted for more than $32 billion in spending in GFY2019, i.e., before the significant jump in spending arising from the pandemic. Furthermore, the program has played an essential role in helping agencies meet their socioeconomic goals (a critical Biden Administration agenda item), with more than 38 percent, or $12.7 billion, of Schedule spending going to over 12,000 small businesses. Indeed, small business spending under the Schedules exceeds the government-wide small business spending goal of 23%.
GSA also plays a critical role in providing Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) vehicles for agencies to meet their mission fulfillment needs. In this regard, GSA has led in facilitating competition under these vehicles, focusing on providing best value solutions to meet complex customer agency IT and professional services requirements.
No agency or program, however, can rest on its laurels, especially in a dynamic global market. Organizations should be reevaluating themselves, investigating ways to improve the fulfillment of their missions as the needs of their customers evolve in response to the market. Even the successful efforts identified above should be tested to assure they maintain their level of success in meeting the needs of their stakeholders.
In her testimony, Ms. Carnahan effectively offers an opportunity for this kind of review and improvement. She stated,
In acquisitions, I look forward to working with stakeholders, including agency partners and companies, to streamline and simplify how they interact with GSA. I want to provide easy access and outstanding value to those buying through GSA and an easier on-ramp for businesses, especially small businesses, interested in selling through GSA.
Coalition members appreciate this enlightened, positive perspective on serving agencies and the nation’s citizens. They appreciate GSA’s unique position to support agency mission fulfillment across government, and they stand ready to assist GSA in that support effort. To that end, we say, “Welcome Administrator Carnahan!”