GSA’s Sonny Hashmi: ‘Modern acquisition is a data challenge’

The General Services Administration (GSA) Headquarters building. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

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For the federal government to reform and improve the way it buys things, it must turn to data, believes Sonny Hashmi, head of acquisition at the General Services Administration.

“Getting procurement right is actually a data problem. It’s not a paperwork problem. It’s not a workflow problem,” Hashmi said Tuesday during FedScoop’s FedTalks. “I truly believe that acquisition modern acquisition is a data challenge.”

Hashmi’s background in IT — most recently as a managing director with Box, but also as CIO of GSA before that — lends itself to the thinking that acquisition relies on data, and when combined with modern technology, that can lead to greater efficiencies in governmentwide procurement.

“Throughout the acquisition process, we’re collecting data or analyzing it every day, using that data to make decisions,” he said. “Modern procurement requires understanding how systems talk to each other, and how data plays a role in doing a better analysis.”

Hashmi said that while he doesn’t come from a career in acquisition like the typical commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service might, “over time, my passion became this idea of solving for a streamlined way to buy goods and services that matter to the mission, or maintaining the appropriate level of quality and influencing markets along the way to make positive impacts to the country,” he said.

“We need to find the right balance in acquisition between the level of checks and balances, the validations we need to do, the compliance and security of the solutions that we buy, and balancing all those requirements against customer service mission outcomes and creating a delightful experience both for our suppliers and our buyers,” Hashmi said. “We need to find pathways through innovative technologies, new entrants to the market, new ideas, and new ways to solve for the mission to identify the right products and services at the right prices that our agency partners need and the federal government relies on, and we need to do it fast.”

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Acquisition, Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), General Services Administration (GSA), Procurement, Sonny Hashmi
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