General Services Administration

Executive Summary

The General Services Administration (GSA) is not a large organization. With a direct budget of $210 million a year and about 19,500 full-time employees, it's a far cry from the Health and Human Services and Defense Departments, with their multi-billion dollar budgets and huge payrolls. Nevertheless, GSA controls or influences about $45 billion in agency purchases.

But GSA, established in 1949 out of recommendations from the first Hoover Commission, suffers from fundamental flaws in its operation, from the contradictory nature of its tasks to the monopoly it enjoys over services provided to federal agencies. In this report, the National Performance Review (NPR) outlines a series of dramatic changes that the Clinton administration, in general, and GSA's administrator, in particular, will make in GSA's roles and operations. It also describes nine reinvention laboratories that GSA established at Vice President Gore's request.

GSA's administrator will better separate the agency's policymaking activities from its delivery of services, thus reducing confusion within GSA over its different roles and improving performance in both areas. Through changes in regulations, legislation, and administrative actions, the administrator also will free agencies to purchase services outside GSA, while GSA will create competitive enterprises with which to compete for business. Once the agency is competitive, the administrator will consider such options as providing one-stop shopping, reducing overhead, streamlining the organization, and improving the management of telecommunications all to improve its effectiveness and customer service.

In addition, the administrator plans to suspend GSA's acquisition of net new office space and courthouses, and push aggressive lease negotiations for existing and new leases. With an ad hoc committee of the President's Management Council that he will convene, GSA's administrator will develop recommendations on how to cut procurement spending 5-10 percent a year without cutting products or services. Finally, the Office of Management and Budget's director will transfer activities unrelated to GSA's central mission, such as transportation audits, to other agencies.

As for GSA's reinvention laboratories, regionwide laboratories in Philadelphia and Denver have blanket authority to waive GSA rules and regulations, while employees seek fresh ways to accomplish their work. An interagency fleet consolidation lab hopes to quickly bring together the fleets of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Energy Department, representing more than 4,000 vehicles. In another lab, volunteers, communities, and environmental and energy concerns have developed a telecommuting center for federal employees.

Through its automatic data processing support services lab, GSA hopes to test new ways to give federal customers the support of private sector information technology. A commercial products acquisition lab will reduce procurement paperwork for customer agencies and centralize billing. A local telecommunications lab is designed to de- monopolize local telecommunications services in Kansas City, Missouri.

With its governmentwide electronic mail lab, the GSA will help provide a common directory and a "Help Desk" to answer user questions. An office products regional commodity center will provide new ways to give the federal community office supplies, paper, and packaging products. Finally, a time and attendance lab will replace manual time card procedures with an electronic input system.

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