Public Service Recognition Week offers the opportunity to highlight the unique role the General Services Administration (GSA) plays in the federal government. We have the honor of not only serving the American people directly, but also supporting federal agencies whose missions help people in so many ways.
It is our goal to be trusted stewards of taxpayer funds by operating efficiently, effectively and securely. Accomplishing this goal would not be possible without our dedicated workforce. I cannot think of a better example of this dedication than the 13 GSA employees who recently earned Service to the Citizen Awards for their commitment to making government services better for the public.
When President Harry Truman established GSA in 1949, he sought to establish one agency to help the government avoid “senseless duplication, excess cost, and confusion in handling supplies, and providing space.” In other words, GSA was established to promote efficiency across the government.
Today, we are building on this legacy by identifying and helping consolidate the duplicative tasks that too often distract from the critical work agencies were created to perform. As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week, I am pleased to serve our federal workforce by helping empower them to achieve their full potential.
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The federal government’s most valuable resource is the public servants who work to carry out their unique duties every day. Freeing our talented employees from performing administrative services that are often duplicated across agencies and do not directly contribute to accomplishing specific goals is a top priority for GSA.
Administrative services are important as they provide the infrastructure that enables us all to perform our work. However, these tasks are often nearly the same from agency-to-agency. This takes time and energy away from the federal government’s valuable human resources. Sharing these similar functions across government allows agencies to dedicate more resources to what makes them different: their critical missions. To support our federal workforce and facilitate this shift in focus, GSA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have requested $1 billion in multiyear budget authority to ensure our current and future workforce has the skills it needs to perform these mission-centric tasks today and in the years ahead.
Allowing agencies to shift from support tasks that can be shared to mission-centric tasks that produce higher value requires transformational change across the government. Too often our government operates in silos that contribute to these similar services existing separately. GSA’s unique role makes our agency the perfect place to facilitate this shift through the adoption of shared services across the government. After all, we were founded to end senseless duplication and we know that when we perform our job well, there is a multiplier effect in the efficiencies other agencies are able to realize.
This important work is a part of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), which is focused on ensuring our citizens have a federal workforce equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
GSA is currently looking at the 14 elements designated by OMB where shared services could be applied to identify current standards for services and opportunities to create value. These range across all non-mission-centric areas, from payroll systems to contract writing systems. The administration’s goal, as laid out in the PMA, is to achieve operational cost savings through shared services of $2 billion over the next 10 years.
Of course the value stretches far beyond the substantial cost savings. By focusing more time and effort on the core functions that fundamentally make one agency different from another, we are able to further develop deeper levels of expertise.
Additionally, alleviating administrative burdens empowers our agencies to employ a more agile workforce that is better prepared to tackle ever-evolving mission needs. As technology continues to change the world we operate in, enabling more mission-centric work will allow our agencies, and government as a whole, to modernize and innovate more quickly.
This long overdue shift is undoubtedly good for our government, but it is equally beneficial for those we honor this week: our federal workforce. By investing in modernization, the Trump administration is ensuring our fellow public servants have the tools, resources and skills they need to perform their important work. This investment in the public servants who work hard each day to maintain our democracy will result in a happier, more productive workforce.
GSA is well positioned to play a leading role in carrying out this transformational change. In fact, our team is so adept at laying the groundwork for shared services that they were honored as finalists at the Partnership for Public Service’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals ceremony last fall.
I look forward to continuing to work alongside all of our talented public servants at GSA as we ensure our partners in government have the high-quality services they need to carry out their missions in service to the American people.
Emily Murphy is the administrator of the General Services Administration.