The GSA Expo: To Be or Not To Be

Thought No. 2 of the “Thirteen Thoughts for 2013”: The GSA Expo: To be or not to be. The GSA Expo is a Myth-Busters event that brings government and industry acquisition professionals together to “continue the dialogue” on key issues and challenges facing the procurement system. The GSA Expo is the leading procurement training and professional development event for government and industry. In a time of fiscal challenge, the GSA Expo allows agencies and industry to efficiently and effectively leverage training and travel funding by providing thousands of procurement training hours for attendees. The GSA Expo is also a business intelligence event for GSA, customer agencies and industry. GSA and customer agencies share information on key program initiatives and acquisition policies while industry shares information on its key contracting and performance capabilities as well as important trends in the commercial marketplace. The GSA Expo is unique. It brings the GSA market to a single event including the contracting programs and professionals from the Federal Acquisition Service and the Public Buildings Service.

On January 9 the Coalition hosted a Forum, “Continuing the Dialogue: Planning for the GSA Expo.” The event provided GSA with an opportunity to share information regarding the planning and logistics for the 2013 Expo to be held on May 14-16 in Orlando. The event also provided members with an opportunity to provide GSA with feedback regarding last year’s Expo as well as hopes and expectations for 2013. The feedback from Forum attendees to GSA focused on a fundamental imperative: GSA needs to embrace the Expo as the leading Myth-Busters, training event for the procurement community. The GSA Expo competes for contractor marketing dollars along with many other events throughout the business year. Contractors and customer agencies take their cue from the host, GSA. By embracing the GSA Expo’s mission of continuing the dialogue and advancing the professional development of the acquisition workforce, GSA can provide a great service to customer agencies and the taxpayer.

GSA has an opportunity to demonstrate to key stakeholders the positives of the Expo. Joe Jordan, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, should be invited to attend. GSA also can invite the Chief Acquisition Officers Council to attend and participate in the Myth-Busters dialogue. GSA can and should invite key stakeholders from Capitol Hill to participate and address the attendees. All these folks should walk the Expo floor and engage with government and industry acquisition professionals who support the federal government’s mission every day.

Time is running short. As of today, contractors and attendees can not register for the 2013 Expo. The training, meeting and events schedule has not been published. The number and identification of GSA attendees is very important for GSA’s customer agencies and contractors. These key items, along with many other logistical matters are unknown and creating unnecessary confusion in and outside of government.

So back to the fundamental question: the GSA Expo, to be or not to be? The GSA Expo can continue to be a wonderful Myth-Busters and training event. The community will support it. Will GSA?

My last point, GSA needs to authorize approval of its acquisition workforce to attend this cost effective annual training event! GSA actually will save taxpayer dollars in allowing its 1102’s from FAS and PBS to attend. Yes, budgets are strained but this GSA training expenditure actually stretches taxpayer dollars.

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