GSA

Hixson talks new strategic plan for professional services

Federal Acquisition Service Regional Commissioner Tiffany Hixson rolled out the government's new professional services strategic plan for industry comment on Aug. 2, marking the next step in the General Services Administration's ongoing shift towards category management.

"This initial plan documents the first steps the federal Professional Services category will be taking to more effectively manage the federal government's second largest category of spend," Hixson, the professional services category executive, said in a statement announcing the release.

The professional services category accounts for more than $63 billion in annual spend and runs the gamut of research and development to public relations and communications services.

Related: Read the plan

The plan lays out FAS's ongoing goals to both analyze and transform professional services under a more efficient category services model. It debuted on GSA's online portal, Acquisition Gateway, with detailed plans and a short questionnaire for industry stakeholders to provide insight and feedback.

"The plan is really focused on four key areas. The first is really developing and flushing out a supplier management strategy and engagement approach that we are really looking for feedback, specifically from industry on," Hixson said at an Aug. 2 Association for Federal Information Resource Management event.

She said that FAS is also trying to better analyze what goes into the spend, under which about 40 percent of expenditures are categorized as "Other".

"We've got a team of folks that are really rolling up their sleeves and are working with the other agencies to work through what's in that category with the goal of 'Do we need to have some other type of PSC codes,' some type of other coding process in the future so we have more clarity about what that spend is just we can really establish a baseline for what that spend looks like."

Hixson said that her team will also look at categorizing the professional services spend to ensure the structure is clearer for industry.

In addition to the spend analysis, Hixson's team will spend the rest of the year improving professional services tools through Acquisition Gateway and defining "best in class contracts" designations for agencies.

The gospel of category management has been all about streamlining how GSA provides its acquisition services to federal agencies. The Office of Management and Budget named executive chiefs for 11 procurement categories, including Hixson, in February to develop plans on how to make acquisition for efficient for the federal government.

The top 10 agencies in the professional services spend helped formulate the strategy, but Hixson said that feedback from industry would be paramount to making the plan work effectively.

"We've been pretty focused internally," she said. "This has been an inside-government discussion, and this is our first opportunity to open this up for industry comment so we can start to get their feedback as we start to develop our [fiscal] 2017 plan."

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