This post will look at who the General Services Administration is, what kind of work they do, and how they benefit the federal government and American citizens. The mission of the GSA is to “deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission support services across government”. And their vision is to create an effective and efficient government for the American people.
Benefits for Federal Government
GSA provides a centralized procurement for the federal government, offering billions of dollars’ worth of products, services, and facilities that federal agencies need to serve the public. Their acquisition solutions supply federal purchases with cost-effective, high-quality products and services form commercial vendors.
They help agencies build and acquire office space, products, and workspace services, and oversee the preservation of historic federal properties. They oversee policies covering travel, property, and management practices, and promote efficient government operations.
Benefits for Citizens
The agency helps keep the nation safe by providing tools, equipment, and non-tactical vehicles to the U.S. military and providing state and local governments with law enforcement equipment and disaster recovery products and services.
They serve the public and make the government easier by offering free access to and information about government programs.
Save taxpayers money through better management of federal real estate.
Deliver cost savings and value for taxpayers through smart asset management while also providing innovative workplace solutions that help agencies fulfill their missions.
Establish the General Services Administration as the premier provider of efficient and effective acquisition solutions across the federal government.
Lead acquisition and procurement strategies that help agencies access inventive and effective commercial solutions, make it easier to do business with the government and use buying power to drive cost savings.
Improve the way federal agencies buy, build, and use technology.
Lead the change to modernize the governments’ approach to technology, products, and services. Guide agencies through innovative and efficient technology deployment to meet their missions and fulfill the needs of Americans in a quickly evolving world.
Design and deliver expanded shared services within GSA and across the federal government to improve performance and save taxpayer money.
Transform admin services in the government by leading consolidation of common mission-support processes and services across the government. Implementing this best practice will make these services better, faster, and more affordable while allowing government agencies to dedicate more resources to their mission.
The General Services Administration was created to streamline the administrative work of the government and was established by President Harry Truman on July 1, 1949.
They consolidated the National Archives Establishment, Federal Works Agency, and Public Buildings Administration; the Bureau of Federal Supply and the Office of Contract Settlement; and the War Assets Administration into one federal agency tasked with administering supplies and promoting workplaces for federal employees.
Their original mission was to dispose of war surplus goods, manage and store government records, handle emergency preparedness, and stockpile strategic supplies for war. They also regulated the sale of various office supplies to federal agencies and managed some unusual operations.
Today, through its 2 largest offices—Public Building Service and Federal Acquisition Service—they provide workspace to the more than one million federal civilian workforce, oversees the preservation of more than 480 historic buildings and facilitates the government’s purchase of high-quality, low-cost goods and services form commercial vendors.
GSA took on a critical assignment of emergency preparedness and began stockpiling strategic materials for wartime. They retained various emergency management functions until they those functions were transferred to FEMA in 1979.
In 1960, The General Services Administration created the Federal Telecommunication system, a government-wide intercity telephone system. Two years later, the Ad Hoc Committee of Federal Office Space recommended a major new building program to address obsolete office buildings in D.C.—resulting in many new offices now.
In 1970, the Nixon administration created the Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center, now called the Federal Citizen Information Center.
The Federal Buildings Fund, authorized in 1971, became operational in 1974 when GSA issued its first rent bills to agencies. They also became involved in administration policy issues.
In 1984, they introduced the government to charge cards. Today, the GSA SmartPay program has over 3 million cardholders.
The next year, they began providing government-wide policy oversight and guidance for federal real property management, in response to an executive order signed by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1995, GSA created the Courthouse Management Group to manage the largest courthouse construction project in 50 years. The project led to the renovation or rebuilding of federal courthouses across the country.
The General Services Administration embraced new technologies, launched electronic government initiatives, and helped the government do business over the internet. In 2007, they consolidated the Federal Telecommunication Service into the Federal Acquisition Service to better align the delivery of services.
In 2010, GSA became the first agency to move email to a cloud-based system, reducing inefficiencies and costs 50%. Since that time, many initiatives have been launched to better streamline government technology.