New GSA Leadership

If you're a government contractor -- or an employee of the GSA, the government's leading acquisition agency -- keep a close eye on this one:

Paul Prouty, who had been serving as acting regional administrator for the GSA's Rocky Mountain Region, has been named the agency's acting administrator.

It's a big job, in an agency that has been troubled for years by inefficiency, waste and persistent allegations of mismanagement.

Remember the questions surrounding the leadership of Lurita Doan? She left under a cloud. Replacing her as acting administrator was Jim Williams, who moved over to the GSA after a stint at the controversial and costly homeland security program known as US Visit.

Here's what Prouty's bio says:

"As acting administrator, Prouty presides over the leading acquisition agency for the federal government. He is responsible for the management of more than one-fourth of the government's total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in assets, including 8,600 government-owned or leased buildings. He is the steward of more than 425 historic properties and 208,000 vehicles."

The GSA is supposed to make the government operate more efficiently, in part through economies of scale. It is supposed to leverage the power of the world's largest buyer of goods and services -- the US government. It's a marvelous idea, if it can be made to work as intended. The agency faces many well documented challenges.

From the recent report to Congress by the agency's inspector general:

-- "GSA's procurement organization awards and administers government-wide contracts worth $40 to $50 billion. With growing programs and shrinking numbers of qualified acquisition personnel, attention to important fundamentals, such as ensuring competition, meaningful price analysis, and implementation of statutory and regulatory
compliance-type requirements has diminished."

-- Management controls have been streamlined, resulting in fewer and broader controls, making it essential that the remaining controls be emphasized and consistently
followed. The need for strong internal controls underlies several of the other management challenges."

-- "GSA has an aging workforce and is facing significant loss of institutional knowledge due to retirements, including a loss of key management staff over the past year. Better recruitment and training programs are needed to develop the 21st century workforce."

By Robert O'Harrow |  January 26, 2009; 3:34 PM ET GSA
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