Out With the Old, In With the New: Major Personnel Changes Shake Up GSA Leadership

December 15, 2017

Major changes are shaking up the leadership at the General Services Administration (GSA) just in time for the new year. First, the Senate confirmed Emily Murphy as the new GSA Administrator on December 6, 2017. Murphy was officially sworn on December 12, 2017 by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney. According to the GSA, “Murphy will lead a workforce of 11,600 full-time employees and oversee more than 371 million rentable square feet of property and approximately $54 billion in annual contracts.”

Unlike many of his other nominations, President Trump’s selection of Murphy to lead GSA was widely praised by government and industry alike. She has extensive experience in acquisition and procurement, including multiple stints at GSA as its Chief Acquisition Officer, the leader of the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council, and most recently as a Senior Advisor. Murphy previously served as Counsel on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and has frequently spoken about acquisition policy topics at industry events.

The day before Murphy’s swearing-in, Federal News Radio reported that Jose Arrieta, the Director of Schedule 70 Contract Operations, will be leaving GSA for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in January. GSA is bound to be disappointed to lose Arrieta after less than a year in such a high-profile job, especially after it passed over highly-qualified internal personnel in favor of poaching Arrieta from the Department of Treasury. Now Schedule 70, arguably the crown jewel in GSA’s contract collection, is once again without a leader and GSA has yet to announce who the interim director will be.

In addition to Arrieta’s departure, news that Rob Cook will no longer be director of GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) broke December 12, 2017. According to Jason Miller of Federal News Radio, Cook “has been asked” to move over to GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) as the Chief Innovation Adviser. Cook, a former Pixar executive who won a visual effects Oscar, was another highly-touted get for GSA. Cook joined the TTS in late 2016 with no public service experience. In light of his apparent ouster, it will be interesting to see if Cook decides to stay at in federal service or if he will return to Hollywood.

So what do these changes mean for GSA Schedule holders? In general, they may be positive. Emily Murphy has been a long-time friend of the Schedules Program and is a respected expert in acquisition. The schedules will not be an afterthought to the Public Building Service (PBS) under her leadership. Arrieta’s departure may also give GSA an opportunity to select someone who will act as an evangelist for Schedule 70 rather than getting bogged down in processes and technology like blockchain – an important initiative, to be sure, but perhaps one better spearheaded by the TTS.

As always, FedPoint keeps you up-to-date with all the major changes at GSA. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Aubel at 301.231.6253 or jaubel@aronsonllc.com.