DorobekInsider: GSA names a OGP-CAO leader — and then merges the organizations

Tuesday - 8/11/2009, 5:30pm EDT

There has been a lot going on over a the General Services Administration. We told you yesterday about Michael Robertson being named to head the Office of Governmentwide Policy and the Office of the Chief Acquisition Officer. As we were talking to people about Robertson, we kept hearing that they were going to actually merge the two organization… and then today… they merged the two organizations.

GSA Reunites Acquisition Policy and Office of Governmentwide Policy
Move Will Improve Accountability, Transparency, and Efficiency of Government Procurement

WASHINGTON — The U.S. General Services Administration today announced that it will bring the Office of Acquisition Policy back into the Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Both offices share a common mission, which they will better be able to fulfill under combined leadership, to guide policy and procurement across government and to increase effective management of government assets and efficient spending of taxpayer money. Originally part of the Office of Governmentwide Policy, the Office of Acquisition Policy was renamed Office of the Chief Acquisition Officer when they were separated in July 2004.

“Bringing acquisition policy back into the Office of Governmentwide Policy positions GSA to better fulfill our mission to drive innovation, accountability, and transparency across government,” said GSA Acting Administrator Paul F. Prouty.

GSA has named Michael Robertson as Associate Administrator of the reunited Office of Governmentwide Policy. Robertson has served as GSA’s White House liaison since March. Before coming to GSA, he served as the deputy working group lead for the Energy and Environment Agency Review Team on the Obama-Biden Transition Project, the Director of Congressional Affairs on the Obama for America Presidential Campaign, and then-Sen. Barack Obama’s Legislative Coordinator and Deputy to the Chief Counsel.

“Michael Robertson is an outstanding choice to lead these important policymaking offices,” said Prouty. “His record of building coalitions and driving innovation and change will serve GSA particularly well as it carries out this transition.”

One longtime GSA watcher said it makes sense and that it should have never been separated. OGP and the CAO were seperated under former GSA Administrator Stephen Perry as a result of the 2003 Services Acquisition Reform Act [PDF]. Here is what Perry testified in November 2001 before the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy:

On the matter of establishing a Chief Acquisition Officer for each agency, GSA believes that any senior Chief Acquisition Officer within an agency should be responsible for providing advice and other assistance to the head of the agency as he or she requests, and to other senior personnel to ensure that acquisitions are managed in a manner that implements the policies and procedures of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the priorities established by the head of an agency.

One former GSAer told me that acquisition had already was a significant part of OGP.

It will be interesting to see how it develops and evolves.