Introduction—what is the General Services Administration?
The General Services Administration (GSA) is an executive agency of the US government responsible for managing equipment and property. It was established in 1949 and was tasked with the mandate of purchasing and distributing supplies to all government agencies. This includes maintaining supplies of important materials. Among its functions, the GSA oversees the construction of government buildings. As well as maintaining the various computers and communication devices used by the Federal Government.
Historical perspective of the GSA
July 1, 1949, saw the birth of the GSA. This was made possible by US President, Harry Truman. Truman created and established the agency to streamline the tedious and administrative work of the Federal Government. The creation of the GSA saw the consolidation of various agencies of government into one federal agency. This included: Public Building Administration, National Archives Establishment, the Office of Contract Settlement, the Bureau of Federal Supply, the federal Work Agency and the War Asset Administration.
GSA Events from the 1950s to 1960s
As the GSA took charge of government daily administrative needs, it ramped up its efforts in the 1950s by overhauling the White House. It was an effort to restructure and reorient the internal administrative affairs of the government towards achieving good service delivery and thorough maintenance. Thus, the GSA engaged in emergency preparedness by stockpiling materials that will be used in war times. The GSA retained various emergency and management functions that weren’t overhauled until they were later handed over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979.
A government-wide intercity system—the Federal Telecommunication System–was created by the GSA in 1960. The problem of obsolete office buildings was addressed in 1962. The Ad Hoc Committee on Federal Office Space recommended a major new building program for better offices in Washington DC. That led to the construction of most of the office buildings that now dominate Independence Avenue.
Further events in the 1970s to 1980s
After the major progress made in the 1960s, President Nixon came onboard. In 1970, his administration created the Consumer Product Information Coordinating Center, which later became the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC). The body was responsible for the distribution of millions of consumer information publications from its facility located in Pueblo, Colorado.
The Federal Buildings Fund was established, in 1971. It became operational in 1974 after the GSA gave out its rent bills for the first time to federal agencies. The GSA continues to deliver on its powers. In 1972, it established the Automated Data and Telecommunications Service. After 10 years, it later transformed into the Office of Information Resources Management.
The GSA also Created the Office of Federal Management Policy in 1973, and in 1978. It centralizes procurement policy through its Office of Acquisition Policy.
After the GSA introduced the use of charge cards to the federal government in 1984, with over 3 million cardholders on its Smartpay Program, the GSA opened its first ever child care center in 1987. The body now manages over 110 federal child care facilities covering over 8,000 children across the country.
GSA performance in the modern era
In 1994, the GSA through its Public Building Service introduced the Designed Excellence Program. This was in order to guide its selection of engineers and architects for major government projects. The Courthouse Management Group formed by the GSA in 1995 duly managed courthouse constructions.
Since the year 2000, GSA showed they embraced new technology and innovations like the internet for effective running of government activities. The GSA uses the internet to aid the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001, 2007 and 2009, under subsequent administrations. Also in line with global trends.
The year 2010 and 2013 saw the GSA completing over 500 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects across all 50 states, as well as increased IT spending. The GSA also introduced lots of initiative programs from 2011 to 2017. Such as the Technology Transformation Services, which is consolidating the efforts of the agency towards technology.
The GSA has been a remarkable government that covers the national administrative life of the US government.
Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.