General Services Administration

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General Services Administration

The General Services Administration (GSA) was established by section 101 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (40 U.S.C.A. § 751). The GSA sets policy for and manages government property and records. More specifically, GSA duties include the construction and operation of buildings; procurement and distribution of supplies; utilization and disposal of property; management of transportation, traffic, and communications; and management of the government's automatic data processing resources program. Like a large business conglomerate, the GSA conducts business in many different areas and operates on different levels of organization: the central Washington, D.C., office, 11 regional offices, and field activities.

The GSA is a large organization, the structure of which consists of several tiers of administrators, offices, bureaus, and support agencies. The first level in the hierarchy of the GSA consists of the administrator, the deputy administrator, and the chief of staff. The administrator is the principal director for the entire organization, assisted by a deputy and chief of staff.

The second tier in the GSA organization consists of four main offices: the Federal Supply Service, Federal Technology Service, Public Buildings Service, and the Office of Governmentwide Policy. These four offices oversee the majority of the agency's work and collectively form the public face of the GSA.

The Federal Supply Service (FSS) provides low-price, quality goods and services to federal departments and agencies. Its services include governmentwide programs for the management of transportation, mail, and travel; audits of transportation; management of a federal fleet; and management of aircraft owned or operated by civilian agencies in support of government missions.

The FSS provides over $25 billion annually in common-use goods and services to federal agencies. It emphasizes purchasing environmentally safe products, and services and supplies over 3,000 environmentally oriented products to the federal government, such as retread tires, shipping boxes made with recycled materials, and water-saving devices.

The service also coordinates a worldwide program for the management of government property, through the Office of Property Disposal, which is responsible for allocating excess Personal Property among the agencies and donating or disposing of property through public sales.

The FSS Interagency Fleet Management Program controls approximately 185,000 vehicles, purchasing over 58,000 new vehicles annually. The FSS also acts as the government's civilian freight manager by providing rating and routing services to customer agencies and overnight delivery of small packages at reduced rates, and managing the postpayment audit of freight and passenger transportation bills.

Information Technology Service The Federal Technology Service (FTS) directs governmentwide programs for automated data processing and local Telecommunications equipment and services, coordinates programs for federal records and information management practices, and provides information to the public through the Federal Information Center. The FTS helps federal agencies manage information resources through the Office of Information Technology Integration (ITI). The ITI provides assistance through three programs: the Federal Systems Integration and Management System, Federal Computer Acquisition Center, and Federal Information System Support Program. The ITS also procures automatic data processing and telecommunications hardware, software, and services involving information resources of governmentwide agencies.

In addition to technical assistance, the service provides various management assistance programs and policies to governmentwide agencies concerning information-related functions and activities. It is in charge of the GSA's governmentwide telecommunications service and assists with the interagency Information Resources Management infrastructure. It also provides internal information systems management for the GSA.

The FTS's Office of Information Security supports all government activities conducting sensitive and classified national security, diplomatic, and Defense Department missions.

Another program overseen by FTS is the Federal Information Center Program, which is a clearinghouse for information about the federal government. The center answers questions regarding government programs and refers people to the appropriate agency. Depending upon their geographic location, residents may be able to access the center through a toll-free telephone number. Another resource, the Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Program, provides information on federally operated programs that offer domestic assistance, such as loans, grants, and insurance, to interested persons.

The FTS also offers the Federal Information Relay Service to help hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals communicate with the government. The service manages numerous programs that maintain information on equipment, goods, and services bought by the government. The information is available to the public.

The Public Buildings Service (PBS) designs, builds, leases, repairs, and maintains approximately 7,300 federally controlled buildings in the United States. The service is also responsible for property management information systems throughout the government and for the maintenance of Public Utilities and their costs.

The Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) functions to ensure that governmentwide policies allow and encourage agencies to develop and utilize the best, most cost effective management practices for the conduct of their specific programs. The OGP consolidates GSA governmentwide policy-making activities within one central office. These activities include the government's plans for acquiring some $200 billion a year in goods and services, the $8 billion a year the government spends on government travel, and the tens of billions of dollars spent each year on internal administrative management systems. The OGP is focused on re-engineering the traditional policy development model to emphasize collaborative development.

The third tier in the organizational structure of the GSA contains 11 regional offices: New England Region, Northeast and Caribbean Region, Mid-Atlantic Region, Southeast Sunbelt Region, Great Lakes Region, The Heartland Region, Greater Southwest Region, Rocky Mountain Region, Pacific Rim Region, Northwest/Arctic Region, and the National Capitol Region. These offices are distributed to facilitate the work of the GSA in diverse areas of the country.

The fourth level in the structural hierarchy of the GSA consists of ten offices that support all GSA services: the Offices of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Chief People Officer, Office of Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of Services and Communications, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Office of Small Business Utilization, Office of Performance Improvement, Office of General Counsel, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Inspector General, along with the GSA Board of Contract Appeals.

The Office of Portfolio Management manages all aspects of the portfolio management business line at the national level.

Further readings

General Services Administration. Available online at <> (accessed July 26, 2003).

U.S. Government Manual Website. Available online at <> (accessed November 10, 2003).


Personal Property; Telecommunications.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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