Brief History of GSA in Questions and Answers

GSA contractor

On July 1, 2019 General Services Administration (GSA) celebrates its 70th anniversary. In this article we briefly review the path GSA has gone through all these years.

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What does GSA stand for?

GSA stands for General Services Administration. It is a federal agency that provides smooth operation of other agencies by providing products and services they require as well as managing communications, transport, properties and various auxiliary needs of federal employees.

Who did create GSA?

GSA was established by the 33rd President of the U.S. Harry Truman on July 1, 1949. The idea behind the new agency was to merge scattered administrations into one consolidated unit that would assume the burden of tedious works for the Federal Government.

When was GSA established?

The groundwork for creation of GSA started in 1947. This year, President Harry Truman initiated constitution of a commission whose goal was to analyze functioning of the federal government and develop ways to optimize tedious administrative work. The commission suggested establishing an office that would manage and control supply and distribution of supplies among agencies.

On June 30, 1949, Statute 63 proclaimed the establishment of General Service Administration:

101 (a): “There is hereby established an agency in the executive branch of the Government which shall be known as the General Service Administration”.

On July, 1949 the GSA officially started functioning.

What was the reason for GSA establishment?

Initially, the goal of creating a new agency was mostly to deal with war surplus goods. For that purpose, GSA undertook functions of War Assets Administration. During the period of World War II American factories had produced thousands of tons of weaponry and military equipment. GSA picked up the baton from WAA and continued disposing of goods to commercial organizations.

Also, GSA managed and stored government records (and still does), handled emergency preparedness, and was in charge for strategic resources stockpiling in case of a new war.

Who was the first Administrator of GSA?

Jess Larson. He was the Administrator of the War Assets Administration since 1947, and 1949 President Truman appointed him the first administrator of General Services Administration.

What was the first task of GSA?

: One of the very first tasks the newly formed Administration was assigned to was White House complete renovation. Upon 1949, the overall condition of White House was so bad, that it required dismantling literally everything except four walls of the building that were made from stone. President Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman personally supervised the renovation.

What is the structure of GSA today?

GSA is organized as follows:

  • Administrator Office. Administrator is in charge for everything that goes in the administration and oversees more than 11,000 GSA employees.
  • Office of Inspector General is responsible for making things at GSA straightforward, efficient, and for preventing frauds, poor management, and misapplication of taxpayers money. The Office performs periodic audits of GSA financial reports, reviews its performance and suggests solutions in case any problems with those were found.
  • Civilian Board of Contract Appeals whose goal is to resolve possible conflicts between government contractors (regardless of the agency) and civilian executive agencies.
  • Staff Offices including:
    • Office of the Chief Financial Officer develops financial plans, and manages budget and finances at GSA. The key principle of operation is to find any means to increase operational efficiency of GSA and all federal agencies.
    • Office of the Chief Information Officer (GSA IT) which provides required information technology to federal agencies, ensures security and protection of information, and develops procedures and policies to safely use IT infrastructure on workplaces.
    • Office of Government-wide Policy. The Office builds and maintains government-wide policies to encourage federal agencies function more effectively by means of applying cost effective management practices. The Office incorporates requirements of federal laws into policies, provides managers with tools and incentives to do their job more efficiently, and identifies best practices and implements them government-wide.
    • Office of Human Resources Management hires personnel for federal agencies, ensures required qualification of personnel, makes sure the workforce is diverse, skillful and properly deployed, manages corporate and working culture, manages working environment for health safety and maximum productivity of federal employees.
    • Office of General Counsel provides legal services and public representation to GSA clients. The Office manages all legal matters GSA may have.
    • Office of Small Business Utilization. This Office is intended to support Small Business Administration by implementing various programs such as: Section 8(a), WOSB, HUBZone, SDVOSB, and other programs.
    • Office of Strategic Communication manages all communication needs of GSA, either internal or external. The Office deals with media, publishes press releases, manages social network accounts and more.
    • Office of Civil Rights fightsagainst racial, sexual, status, gender identity, age, disability discrimination at workplace. OCR provides and keeps equal working conditions and employment opportunities for every federal employee.
    • Office of Mission Assurance is responsible for Continuity of Operations Planning, workplace violence prevention, ensuring safety and security of GSA facilities and workers, personal ID verification, physical security and so on.
    • Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs. The Office is responsible for liaison between Congress, the Government and the GSA. One of the prime goals of OCIA is to coordinate GSA policy with the Office of Management and Budget.
    • Office of Administrative Services rules a wide range of Programs dedicated to improving the way the Federal Government delivers its services. The Office manages correspondence, develops workplace initiatives, maintains internal directives of agencies, and, of course, performs disclosure of documents owned by the government upon request as required by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
    • Office of Customer Experience makes sure GSA services are delivered with the end user in mind. The range of activities of the Office also involves developing human-centered designs, gathering feedback through customer surveys and interviews, and performing market research.
  • Services including:
    • Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) performs procurements of goods and services to the government ensuring procurement stays within boundaries of law and is cost-effective.
    • Public Building Service (PBS) manages construction of effective and sustainable workplace solutions for federal agencies. The activity of the Service includes designing and constructing new buildings, leasing the existing ones, disposing of obsolete federal buildings, preserving historical facilities and buildings, and managing child care centers providing child care services to federal employees.
  • Regions
    • New England Region 1 (HQ: Boston)
    • North East and Caribbean Region 2 (HQ: New York)
    • Mid-Atlantic Region 3 (HQ: Philadelphia)
    • Southeast Sunbelt Region 4 (HQ: Atlanta)
    • Great Lakes Region 5 (HQ: Chicago)
    • The Heartland Region 6 (HQ: Kansas City)
    • Greater Southwest Region 7 (HQ: Fort Worth)
    • Rocky Mountain Region 8 (HQ: Denver)
    • Pacific Rim Region 9 (HQ: San Francisco)
    • Northwest / Arctic Region 10 (HQ: Seattle)
    • National Capital Region 11 (HQ: Washington)

How GSA was changing since 1949?

In early 50’s, the main goal of GSA was to dispose the wartime goods surplus. It also began overhauling the White House. In 1960, a government-wide communication system was introduced. The Federal Telecommunication System greatly simplified inter-agency and in-agency communication. Also, the famous Independence Avenue in Washington, DC, was build up in 60’s to replace obsolete buildings and provide new office space for GSA employees.

70’s resulted in creating of the Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center (1970), Federal Buildings Fund (1971) and Automated Data and Telecommunications Service (1972). The latter evolved to the Office of Federal Management Policy. The Office of Acquisition Policy was initiated in 1978. Also, the main functions of GSA since its very creation – emergency preparedness and stockpiling of strategic materials – were finally transferred to Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In 1984 GSA introduced the federal government to the use of charge cards, known as the GMA SmartPay system. The goal of the system was to simplify government purchases and to prevent procurement frauds and misuse of funds. Currently, the total spend via SmartPay reaches $20 billion.

In 1994, the GSA introduced the Design Excellence Program. The program aims to streamline the process of selection and hiring of engineers and architects, as well as to cut costs.

The modern era of GSA involves growing usage of new communication channels including internet and social media. GSA launched electronic government initiatives to help companies to business with the government. Currently, GSA social media coverage includes Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

In 2010, GSA became the first federal agency to move email to the “cloud” to fight inefficiencies and cut down costs. In 2013, GSA launched the Acquisition Gateway to help buyers from all federal agencies act as one acquisition community.

Who is the head of GSA?

Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration is the head of this organization. The Administrator is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Since 1949, about 40 administrators revolved, some of them were holding the position twice.

Since December 2017, Administrator of GSA is Emily W. Murphy. 

What is the history of GSA budgets over the last 9 years

Below are total GSA assets from 2011 to 2019.

Year Total assets, in million dollars
2011 $39,500
2012 $39,428
2013 $40,260
2014 $39,011
2015 $39,405
2016 $40,338
2017 $41,421
2018 $42,942
2019 $44,700

What is the average sale per GSA contractor?

On average, GSA contractors sell for $1,67 million.

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Comments
  • GSA’s budget assets are very impressive. Another reason to try our luck to become a member of the system!

  • The idea of creating a GSA was as brilliant as it is convenient today. We thank President Truman for his decision to create it. And thank you for your detailed account of the evolution of the system.

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