Easy, Efficient, and Modern.
These are admirable and important goals for any organization operating in a hyper connected world. As governments continue their modernization push, leaders like Alan Thomas are embracing the demands of public sector technology.
The recently appointed Thomas, who is coming upon his first anniversary as Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), sat down with Public Spend Forum’s Raj Sharma for episode 8 of our Public Procurement Leaders podcast.
How could this be easy?
As you might expect, the goals of ease, efficiency, and modernization are the exact priorities of Thomas, whose FAS portfolio manages $50 billion in annual spend across 20,000+ industry partners. How could that be easy? For Thomas, “Easy” comes in the form of improving the systems GSA personnel and customers use, making historic offerings like the Schedules program simpler for suppliers to navigate and understand. Thomas offered as an example the MAS Plain Language Roadmap, which GSA created to help suppliers offer and sell services through the Federal Supply Schedules. Once on schedule, offerors can use its MAS Welcome Package to optimize their business development efforts.
Efficiency, Modernity, and Tools for Suppliers
“Efficiency” is embodied by a continued focus on shared solutions, with Thomas pointing to the SmartPay charge card and fleet management programs as two of several shared solutions GSA delivers across government. “Modern” is another key priority, not just for GSA but for the entire federal government. Thomas remarked on GSA’s role in half of 50 recommendations in the Administration’s Modernizing Government Technology Act implementation guidance.
Given the role of FAS in creating opportunities for buyers and suppliers in the public sector market, Raj asked Thomas for advice on improving government and industry relations. Thomas pointed to programs designed specifically for this purpose: the FASTLane program and Startup Springboard, each designed to help technology companies get on the IT 70 schedule in an easier, more efficient way.
A Rule of Thumb for Industry Relations
Along those lines, Thomas offered advice for suppliers wanting to do more business with the government. First, understand the customer and their challenges, and only then determine how your product or solution is going to help. Too often, says Thomas, vendors will simply tell government officials what they offer and not ask any questions. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to let government attendees do 80% of the talking, which is the best way to learn about their challenges.
Sage advice from someone who has spent time as a supplier and a government employee. For more wisdom and tips from Alan Thomas, check out Episode 8 of the Public Procurement Leaders Podcast!