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FCW : April 15, 2016
18 April 15, 2016 FCW.COM Managing a workforce that oversees 7,000 contracts and $3.5 billion in federal spending, Mary Davie sits in the cat- bird seat of the government’s vast IT acquisition operation. Her current post is assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services in the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service. But whatever the role, Davie has made a career of improving the way the government buys products and services — not just for IT and telecommunications but for everything from office supplies to motor vehicles — through a dizzying array of blanket purchase agreements, governmentwide acquisition contracts and other initiatives. And it all started with a surprise presentation. Davie came to GSA in 1989 when she was fresh out of college with a business degree from Virginia Tech. Like many new college graduates, she said, she hadn’t thought about a specific career path. Fortunately for the federal government, she was spotted by managers who saw potential and cultivated it. One of her first managers brought her along to all of his client presenta- tion meetings — so often that she could recite the presenta- tion details from memory. On the drive to one of those meetings, the manager, Rick Davis, told Davie she would be handling the presentation herself that day. Davis already knew what others in the agency would dis- cover in the coming years — that Davie could put together complex information, see a solution and use her interperson- al skills to get people to listen and collaborate on good ideas. And although that presentation alone might not have been the catalyst, Davie was quickly hooked on GSA’s mission. “The people were engaging [and] super-smart. They made me one of the team and explained what they were doing,” she said of those initial days at GSA — echoing what she often says today about her colleagues and partners. Those colleagues — at GSA, across government and in industry — say similar things about Davie. Engagement and discussion are always central to her leadership efforts, and were front and center in 2015 as she tackled NS2020, revamps for Alliant and Schedule 70 offerings, and develop- ment of GSA’s Acquisition Gateway. “Our biggest role is to bring people across government and industry together” to work on the best solutions for users, she said. Therefore, the gateway is central to GSA’s mission because thousands of federal buyers “have to have someone to reach out to.” Davie extends that attitude beyond her day job. She has long been a leader at the American Council for Technology — the organization that works with the Industry Advisory Council in a public/private collaboration to solve difficult federal technology issues. She served as ACT president from June 2011 to May 2012 and continues to play an active role with ACT-IAC. Such consensus-building and commitment to cultivat- ing good ideas are among her greatest strengths. Yet Davie’s peers say her ability to work with people, understand them and win their trust and respect also belong at the top of the list. Davis, the manager who brought her along on all those client meetings, retired 15 years ago. Not surprisingly, Davie still talks to him on a regular basis. n BY MARK ROCKWELL (PHOTO BY ROBERT SEVERI) GSA’S GREAT COMMUNICATOR 2016 GOVERNMENT EAGLE WINNER 0415fcw_018-021.indd 18 3/23/16 3:23 PM
March 30, 2016
April 30, 2016