Can one company manage the whole Federal government from cutting the grass and building maintenance to IT to ordering office supplies? You bet it can. The company is the General Services Administration, begun in 1949 (74 years ago,) and operated by over 12,000 people.
What is GSA? It’s a company that manages layers of government operations. If you need a toilet fixed, you don’t call a plumber. You call GSA. If the windows of the government building in which you work get blown out by a storm, you call GSA. If you need a product made by an entrepreneur that would make producing work faster or more focused, then GSA will interact with that entrepreneur to fulfill your needs.
In the title of this piece, we said the government doesn’t shop at Amazon. It has a much more fascinating place to shop. Although staples, printer paper, and copier toner aren’t all GSA is about, even the simplest government office needs are answered by GSA.
The Layers Of GSA
What is GSA? Its many layers are grouped under the Federal Acquisition Service or FAS and the Public Buildings Service or PBS.
Acquisition means to acquire or obtain something. The FAS obtains whatever a government office or building or personnel needs, such as:
• The purchase and maintenance of a fuel-efficient fleet of vehicles. Someone had to buy Air Force One and Marine One, after all.
• The TTS or Technology Transformation Service works with federal agencies to understand and operate the newest technologies. Do you work with anything.gov? That’s GSA.
• Finance and travel are also managed by the company.
• GSA Schedules, also known as GSA Retail Operations, is where government agencies shop for staples, pens, and computer mouses. Vendors of products as well as services obtain contracts to fulfill GSA acquisitions. There’s a special process by which both vendors and entrepreneurs are researched and vetted before they obtain a contract.
What is GSA? You wouldn’t think of a government management entity buying and selling land for parks, Federal courthouses, warehouses, post offices, or airfields. It buys land for Federal offices in the states and territories.
The agency plants green roofs for some of its structures and uses renewable energy in its buildings, in addition to converting its buildings to green ones.
Lest you think that brick-and-mortar structures are all the PBS manages, think again. Ports such as the Port of Savannah or the Port of Los Angeles, lands designated as national parks, or lands earmarked for sale to the government for national parks, are all managed, from the beginning or buying to the end or selling, by one layer in the GSA.
What Services Does GSA Provide?
General Services Administration is a business, first and foremost. It, therefore, markets its products and services to the state, local, and federal employees who use its wares. These services are:
• Market research as a service or MRAS for government buyers.
• Vendor support center for marketing research and eBuy.
• Cybersecurity services.
• Telecommunications services.
• Physical security services and systems such as surveillance systems.
• Transportation and lodging services.
GSA As a Work Provider
Keep in mind that GSA not only manages government buildings and land. It provides work for the general public in construction, IT, and professional services, among others.
Someone has to make the supplies the GSA distributes to end users. Someone has to build the equipment used by the military. The Federal courthouses and office buildings and complexes have to be kept viable and safe for their workers. GSA provides work for a wide variety of people.