Data propels GSA's plans for the acquisition workforce

Tuesday - 4/13/2010, 6:48am EDT

WFED's Jason Miller with Michael Robertson, GSA's associate administrator in the Office of Governmentwide Policy

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

CAMBRIDGE, Md. -- The White House requested $158 million in the fiscal 2011 budget to train and increase the number of civilian agency acquisition workers.

The record amount of money the Obama administration is asking for is far from guaranteed, but that doesn't mean the General Services Administration isn't planning on how they would use it.

In fact, Michael Robertson, GSA's associate administrator in the Office of Governmentwide Policy, says whether or not Congress allocates the funding, there are several things his office is doing to improve the acquisition workforce.

"The opportunity that we have here is that what the acquisition workforce is was redefined several years ago," he says. "It's now in such a broader area that we have to make sure people can move from one side to the next. You are learning acquisition planning, cutting contracts and managing programs, and having the mobility there so it's a professional workforce or a career path, if you will, and that is where we want to take it."

Robertson, in an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio, says OGP wants to remove impediments, reduce the complexity and "needless repetition" that makes the acquisition process more difficult than it needs to be.

"When the budget cycle comes around we're ready to catch that and move forward," he says.

Dan Gordon, the administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, tells the IRMCO audience that strengthening the acquisition workforce, saving money and reducing the risk to the government are among his top priorities.

"As we look to demonstrate fiscal responsibility, we have to stop looking like dozens of medium-sized customers, instead of the largest one in the world," Gordon says. "We want to look at redundant blanket purchase agreements and overlapping interagency contracts, but we are not going to automatically consolidate contracts, but look for opportunities where it makes sense."

Robertson says there are several services and commodities where consolidation could happen. He says OGP is reviewing the data on a governmentwide basis to look for these areas.

"It's a place where we can look governmentwide and say 'what are agencies doing, what agencies' needs are and where there are commonalities?'" Robertson says. "Once we know where there are agencies that need similar products or commonalities, we can work with the Federal Acquisition Service to deliver that governmentwide."

Beyond the acquisition workforce, Robertson also is focusing on several other priorities, including helping GSA meet its mission in providing services to other agencies.

"OGP is in the position to gather data, information and do the analysis," he says. "Once we have that, we can then start seeing where efficiencies lie and where inefficiencies exist and start cutting those out."

Robertson adds that OGP's broad mission provides them with the opportunity to impact several areas of the government at one time.

He also wants to implement innovations from frontline employees to all of GSA-similar to the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) award run by the Office of Management and Budget.

"We've done a couple of little things," he says. "We started within OGP to see what are some of the ideas, ran some social collaborative tools to bring them up and we are talking about taking these ideas agencywide."

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