GSA reorg surprised rank and file

The move to fold the Technology Transformation Service under the Federal Acquisition Service came as a surprise to the workers at 18F and TTS.

TTS Commissioner Rob Cook

Rob Cook, who had been commissioner of the Technology Transformation Service, will continue to lead TTS as a deputy commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

A reorganization announced June 7 at the General Services Administration came as surprise to many affected employees, FCW has learned. The move folded the relatively new Technology Transformation Service under the Federal Acquisition Service.

Under the change, FAS will be headed by a political appointee. The new leader is Alan B. Thomas, a former defense procurement analyst with experience as an executive in the government contracting community.

Current FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe will lead the organization until Thomas takes over, according to a source at GSA.

TTS chief Rob Cook explained the move in an email obtained by FCW.

"I appreciate that this change is unexpected and significant and will raise questions and concerns," Cook wrote. "That's a reflection of how much we all care about our group and our mission. But I can assure you that the intention behind this is to help us thrive, and I believe it will prove to be a very positive change. We will continue to have our own culture and identity, and we will continue to work as we always have in an agile, user-centered way. And the move comes with many important practical benefits such as authorities and funding."

Cook also conducted a town hall-style meeting on June 8 that included GSA leadership and the TTS rank-and-file staff, as well as smaller group discussions to talk about the change and address questions and concerns.

"The work you do has gained respect and won strong support throughout the government," Cook wrote in his email. "I continue to be blown away by your energy and dedication in making a difference. You are an inspiration to work with, and I look forward to this next phase of our time together. Thank you."

It's not clear what effect the change will have on TTS. By all accounts, the tech innovation groups like 18F and the Office of Management and Budget-based U.S. Digital Service have been welcomed by many in the Trump administration, including former top Capitol Hill aide Matt Lira and Gerrit Lansing, who briefly served as White House chief digital officer before resigning.

One literal snapshot of this is a photo tweeted by White House social media director Dan Scavino featuring President Trump sitting in on Jared Kushner's innovation group. Cook and USDS's Haley Van Dyke are among the administration figures and members of Congress in the group.

Perhaps more substantially, the president's budget submission includes $228 million for an IT modernization fund housed at GSA, a move that comports with the Modernizing Government Technology Act currently awaiting action in the Senate. The budget also maintains TTS and USDS.