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GovLoop Member of the Week – Mary Davie, GSA’s Assistant Commissioner, Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, Federal Acquisition Service

When I am asked for best practice examples of how GovLoop is accelerating knowledge exchange and breaking down traditional barriers that hinder interagency communication, I immediately cite Mary Davie. A few months ago, Mary launched the Acquisition 2.0 group with the following comment:

“Would love to hear from gov and industry – best practices and creative solutions in federal acquisition that you’ve experienced to include cool uses of technology. Share share share! Thanks much.”

And share they have! The group is now nearly 200 members strong and has contributed roughly 100 comments that are quickly generating solutions to streamline Federal acquisition processes.

I think you’ll agree: there’s something about Mary that makes me hopeful regarding the future of government. You can learn more about her below.

1. It looks like you have spent your entire career in government at GSA. What was your path to public service and why did you choose GSA? I started with GSA as a summer hire while still in college. I worked for an organization called FEDSIM which at the time consisted of a small group of analysts supporting other federal agencies primarily with modeling and simulation support. The people at FEDSIM gave me increasing responsibility and challenged me, even as a part time employee. After I graduated from VA Tech, they offered to hire me as a junior COTR/Project Manager. Because GSA supports all federal agencies, the work is always diverse and challenging, plus you get to meet so many great people and learn what’s happening all over government.

2. Can you tell me a bit more about your current role at GSA? I currently run the Assisted Acquisition Services Portfolio in the Federal Acquisition Service. We provide acquisition assistance to other federal agencies for the procurement and management of professional services and information technology products and services on a fee for service basis. As it happens, FEDSIM is one of the organizations I now manage.

3. How did you find out about GovLoop and how has it improved your ability to accomplish your organizational mission? I read about GovLoop in the press and was familiar with Steve as the co-founder of Young Government Leaders. Govloop is an amazing platform to share information, exchange ideas and meet people from all over the world with varying backgrounds, experience, and expertise. The Acquisition2.0 group I created on GovLoop is 194 members strong who are talking about ways to improve federal acquisition and get better outcomes. Since my group at GSA provides acquisition assistance to other federal agencies, the ideas the GovLoop group members are sharing can be directly applied to the work I do at GSA, which ultimately should improve the services we provide and get better value for our taxpayer dollars.

4. Same question for Twitter and other social media tools – how have they made a difference professionally in your ability to engage in knowledge exchange? I have found that the social media tools like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook as well as an internal collaboration tool we use at GSA have provided me with connections and information I wouldn’t otherwise have or might have after spending countless hours researching. Through these tools, the network of people and access to information is limitless and has been a big help to me personally and professionally.

5. You are on a mission to transform government acquisition. What’s your vision for 3-5 years from now? 10 years? We have so many challenges facing us in federal acquisition – not enough people, not enough people with the right skills to manage increasingly complex acquisitions, timelines that are entirely too long caused by rigid rules and regulations coupled with intense oversight, all contributing to stifling creativity and innovation. In addition, we don’t collaborate enough across government. Numerous good practices exist all over government yet we don’t have mechanisms to share. We must find ways to support this workforce by giving them the skills, training, tools and policy necessary for favorable outcomes and for appealing careers. We need to rethink acquisition processes and practices, find ways to expand collaboration, and find ways to take advantage of technology to do so.

6. What are the attributes of Jim Williams that make you call him your favorite public servant? Jim Williams has two priorities – people and results “in that order”. Jim cares deeply about government and doing the right thing for taxpayers, promotes and exhibit values such as teamwork, professionalism, and integrity and has a great sense of humor. He is someone I learn from everyday and is a true leader.

7. When you’re not at GSAor highlighting GovLoop “Projects of the Week,” how do you spend your “spare” time? Cycling, reading, gardening (some), and keeping up with my teenage sons (the reason I originally joined facebook).

8. Any other thoughts or advice that you would like to share with fellow GovLoopers? I would encourage people to think and reach outside traditional boundaries, share information, ask questions, take risks and build your networks to expand the possibilities.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Adriel Hampton

OK, we must have a question about Mary’s favorite bands. I know I’ve seen her tweeting about Linkin Park …

Mary Davie

Linkin Park is always a favorite when alone in the car and I can turn the volume all the way up! Also love Dave Matthews, Norah Jones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chris Botti, Lyle Lovett, Tom Jones and many many more – list is endless I think!


Good blog featuring two of the best GovLoopers – Andy and Mary. Lots of opportunities to reform acquisitions in the next 3-5 years. I’m glad we have smart people like Mary leading the charge.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Red Hot Chili Peppers got me through the summer of 1998 in San Diego. “Under the Bridge” was my song! BSSMagic was an incredible album – in my Top 10 of All Time. Norah Jones = me…melted.

Sterling Bobbitt

Great article, Andy.
Since we’re on a musical theme, to quote Sam Cooke:
There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will!

Andrew Krzmarzick

Sterling – thank you for those inspiring lyrics…I am going to ask you to share your rendition at a future staff meeting/event where we’re both present!

Cindy Lou Baker

This was great! First time I ever took a moment to check out the Person of The Week. I’ll be sure to do it from now on. When Adriel brought up Linkin Park I laughed out loud! Mary responded bravely. I too, have a teen who influences some of my tastes! cb