GSA puts more category management pieces in place

Jeff Koses, senior procurement executive, GSA

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The General Services Administration named Kevin Youel Page as the new deputy commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

Youel Page’s ascension is another piece to a growing set of major changes happening at FAS.

Kevin Youel Page

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced Youel Page’s new role Monday at the National Contract Management Association’s 33rd annual Government Contract Management Symposium in Washington. At the same time, GSA unveiled publicly for the first time its new Common Acquisition Platform with three hallways — technology hardware, technology software and office supplies and administrative support.

Youel Page takes over as deputy commissioner effective Nov. 2, after coming to FAS three years ago and serving most recently as the assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE), and the deputy assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services.

Karen Kopf will become the acting assistant commissioner until a permanent person is named, according to an Oct. 20 email from FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe, which Federal News Radio obtained.

“As we move into a new fiscal year, we continue to work on transforming FAS into the Government Acquisition Marketplace. We are focused on building an organization that provides our customers with exceptional services and our employees with a best-in-class acquisition organization within which to work,” Sharpe wrote in the email. “The success of our most important initiatives like category management, the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP) and modernizing our business models is reliant on us looking at new ways to conduct the business of the agency and that also means looking at our leadership team to make sure we’re optimizing the exceptional talent of our top executives.”

Youel Page takes over for Bill Sisk, who after two years as deputy FAS Commissioner shifts to be the permanent assistant commissioner for the Office of Travel, Motor Vehicle, and Card Services (TMVCS).

Federal Drive with Tom Temin broadcast live from the NCMA Government Contract Management Symposium. GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini stopped by the show before giving the keynote address. He spoke with Executive Editor Jason Miller. (Photo by Shefali Kapadia/Federal News Radio)
Tangherlini said in an interview with Federal News Radio after his speech at NCMA that the move to category management and the opening of the three hallways is a big change for the federal acquisition community as whole.

Vendors have expressed concerns about the move to category management and hallways initiative, and all the tools that are expected such as the prices paid portal and contract consolidation plans.

“I really think with all my conversations with the vendor community, the various associations and groups we talked to [today] there is a real desire and interest in coming up with a better way for doing this work, a more straightforward and simple way,” he said. “People can reach into their pocket and pull out their smartphone and there’s a better way to do almost everything today so we have to evolve as well.”

The change isn’t just impacting vendors, but GSA’s own staff.

Tangherlini said FAS recognizes the category management approach means its own contracting officers have to learn to act differently.

“We have actually set aside for the coming fiscal year 1.5 percent of our entire personnel budget for training and to reinvest in the skills. They need to have access to the latest technology, the latest information and the latest systems so we are going to invest in that,” he said. “We will make the conscious, directed decision in invest in our employees so they can be leaders in this change, and they can understand, support and help develop that change effort.”

Tangherlini said the 1.5 percent isn’t just a proposal, but a reality because he can make that decision thanks to the flexibility of how FAS is funded through agency customer fees for using their services or contracts. FAS’ budget in 2014 was $11.5 billion and its budget in 2015 is expected to be $11.6 billion. Of that $11.5 billion in 2014, FAS spent about $311 million on total personnel compensation and expects that number to rise to $320 million this year.

So that means FAS plans to spend about $3.2 million on training.

“We think one of the ways we will be a more attractive partner for agencies to work with is by having the best and most talented acquisition people in government working for us,” Tangherlini said.

GSA also is focusing on its customer. Over the summer, it completed a survey of its customers that it’s using to improve its services.

Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, said the survey showed GSA doesn’t collect metrics about contracts in a standard way.

He said GSA is kicking off a couple of initiatives to baseline and put together good acquisition scorecards.

Jeff Koses, senior procurement executive, GSA
“We need a common agencywide definition of procurement administrative lead time. When does the clock start? When does it stop? What are the key events?” Koses said

in an interview with Federal News Radio. “We need a common a definition of customer satisfaction. One we are working to establish, but we do not have one way of understanding and measuring that.”

Tangherlini said the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) also is playing a role in reaching out to GSA’s customers. OGP is conducting two data visualization pilots with the departments of Commerce and Treasury.

He said the tools give Commerce and Treasury “tools to see how small businesses are being involved in the program and to see what the one-bid rates are so that we can drive down high-risk contracting and so we can push up competition in the contracting environment.”

Koses said OGP also is working with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy on an upcoming initiative to rate the agencies on their procurement processes.

“It’s really trying to encourage new entrants, trying to encourage some speed into the acquisition system and it’s trying to encourage a sense of partnership of industry and government working together so that we can take away lessons,” he said.

Koses said the rate the agency would include metrics such as whether the most recent procurement worked well or struggled, what worked and what didn’t and what can be used by others.

“What we expect to come out of that is for the rate-the-agency idea to expand and become part of an OFPP initiative,” he said. “We found it really helpful to get the initial set of data and we are using that to put together a better industry engagement strategy.”

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