GSA FAS Focus

Public Service Recognition Week with Acting Administrator Katy Kale

May 06, 2021 U.S. General Services Administration Season 1 Episode 6
GSA FAS Focus
Public Service Recognition Week with Acting Administrator Katy Kale
Chapters
GSA FAS Focus
Public Service Recognition Week with Acting Administrator Katy Kale
May 06, 2021 Season 1 Episode 6
U.S. General Services Administration

Since 1985, the first week of May has been designated Public Service Recognition Week - a time to honor the people serving as federal, state, local, and tribal government employees.
Our guest is GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale. We’ll find out what attracted her to public service - not once, but several times in her career.

Upcoming Events
www.gsa.gov/events

For more information about Public Service Recognition Week, visit:
https://ourpublicservice.org/public-service-recognition-week/


Show Notes Transcript

Since 1985, the first week of May has been designated Public Service Recognition Week - a time to honor the people serving as federal, state, local, and tribal government employees.
Our guest is GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale. We’ll find out what attracted her to public service - not once, but several times in her career.

Upcoming Events
www.gsa.gov/events

For more information about Public Service Recognition Week, visit:
https://ourpublicservice.org/public-service-recognition-week/


>> I'm Joan Kornblith. Welcome to GSA FAS Focus, a look at what is happening in and around the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service. Since 1985, the first week in May has been designated public service recognition week. It's a time to honor the people serving as federal, state, local, and tribal government employees. There are a lot of interesting activities going on this week to showcase the great being performed across the country. A quick search shows award ceremonies, tribute events, educational activities, all aimed at delivering the message about the value of public service. That is also the topic of this edition of FAS Focus. Our guest is GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale. We'll find out what attracted Katy to public service not once but several times in her career. We'll also run down some of the webinars and CLP opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks and put a few fascinating facts in FAS Focus. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what is happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith and in just a couple of minutes, I'll be talking with Katy Kale about her role as Acting Administrator of GSA, but first, are you thinking about getting on the GSA schedule? Have questions? Well, we have answers. We have lots of answers. Block out the hour from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, May 11th. That is when FAS is teaming up with GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to present a webinar called Getting On The GSA Schedule, What You Need To Know. It looks like this is the first of a two-part program. We'll tell you about the second event a bit later in the show. This webinar will cover all of the basics starting with what the schedule is and the process for getting your small business on the GSA schedule. Add this to your calendar now. Getting On The GSA Schedule, What You Need To Know, Tuesday, May 11th from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Now that is 1 p.m. start for my friends in the Central Time Zone, noon if you're on Mountain Time, 11 Pacific, and 10 a.m. in Nome, Alaska, and if you're working in Pago Pago, it is 7 a.m. For more details and registration information just visit gsa.gov/events. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what is happening in and around GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I am Joan Kornblith and joining me now is GSA's Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator Katy Kale. Welcome, Katy. >> Thank you, Joan. >> Happy -- >> Good to be here. >> Happy public service recognition week and of course a belated welcome back to GSA as this is the second time you've served with the agency. Now before we go any further, I know that you have worked on the hill and in the executive branch previously. Can you give our listeners a little nutshell biography? >> Absolutely. So my very first job in the federal government, my foray into public service, was when I was in high school. I was a page in the House of Representatives for a summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I caught Potomac Fever as they like to say and knew that this is where I just needed to be and so yes, that landed -- after college and a few other opportunities, that brought me to the Senate. I worked for four different Senators over the course of about 10 years and then had the opportunity to be the assistant to the President for Management and Administration in the Obama White House and after about six and a half years of that, I had the great opportunity of being the Chief of Staff for GSA, so I had a wonderful, wonderful public service life and then I took the last three and a half years to try something different. I was the President and COO of a small business, a woman-owned and woman-led small business here in Washington D.C. but I was called back. I was brought back. Had the opportunity to work on the Biden/Harris transition team as the lead for the GSA team and then was given this amazing opportunity to serve both as the Acting Administrator and the Deputy Administrator here at GSA. >> I want to go back in time a little bit. You mentioned that you were a page. That is a huge deal. Those positions are very, very hard to get. Do you remember your first day or your first week as a page? >> Absolutely. Absolutely, I do. It was amazing. It -- you know, so I grew up outside of Boston and to be a page, you live and you work on Capitol Hill and so my mother and my grandmother drove me down to Washington D.C. as a high school student and dropped me off and I met my roommates. One was from Michigan and one was from Ohio and you're just meeting all of these people on both sides of the aisle that are your age that are interested in the federal government and working in public service really, and then the next thing you know, you're literally on the floor of the House of Representatives and seeing all these people that you watch the news and you saw and you've heard about and for me, these are the people that I heard about around my kitchen table because my family had always been involved in public service, in government, very local government, and so we would just make sure that we were always caught up on what was happening in the world so it was absolutely amazing. It was life changing for me. >> Well, you know, most children don't wake up one day and say I want to run a big federal agency when I grow up. Was this high on your list of aspirations when you were little, you know, teacher, astronaut, GSA Administrator? >> I -- so when I was younger, probably in, you know, junior high and into high school, I really wanted to be a news anchor. I loved watching the news. I wanted to be the person who was delivering the news. When I was in high school, I actually -- my high school got a local news -- a cable news studio, so I was able to be an anchor on the Norwood High School News and we broadcasted the morning announcements. It was -- it went out to all of the school and, you know, the very, very local parts of the town, but I also, as I said before, was very intrigued by government and really specifically local government. My grandfather worked for or within Constituent Services for our Congressman and you know, he was the person who made sure that people were receiving their Social Security checks or they were getting their VA benefits and my mother was very involved in the school board and the town council, and so those were always part of the conversations that were being had. I didn't realize it at the time, but NPR was always on in my home. I didn't realize that it was NPR but now as an adult I'm like oh that's -- this is what I was listening to. This is what my grandmother was listening to when I would go over there after school so very involved or very interested in it from a young age. >> So you went from being a would-be Natalie Jacobson, I'm thinking, since you were in Boston -- >> Yes [inaudible]. >> I went to college in Boston and I worked at that station for a little while. So you went from that to public service and that's actually another form of public service, you know, journalism. >> Yes, yes. >> Well, we're going to get back to that in just a second. I'm Joan Kornblith. You are listening to GSA FAS Focus. If you've got questions about anything that you're hearing today or someone you'd like to hear featured on the program, just send us a note. The e-mail address is [email protected] That is G-S-A-F-A-S-F-O-C-U-S @gsa.gov. This is public service recognition week and we're talking with Katy Kale, GSA's Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator. We've already talked a little bit about your background and how you got into public service but what led you back to GSA this year? Or let's take it back one more step. What made you decide that it was time to leave the private sector and return to public service with the Biden/Harris administration? >> That's a great question. I -- GSA is very important to me. As numerous people within GSA have heard me say, I was a GSA customer way before I was a GSA employee. GSA helped me when I was in the Senate, when I was in the White House and when I worked on both of my presidential transition or times in presidential transition. I'm very drawn to mission-driven organizations and GSA really has some of the smartest, most forward-leaning people I know working together in a common mission and you know, there are so many different things that GSA does on a daily basis, everything from transformation of technology to design and construction, our procurement, our fleet management. It really is a very active and exciting organization to be part of, and so when I was very happily working in my small business and learning from that amazing opportunity, I had an unexpected opportunity come my way which was to volunteer to lead the GSA transition team, and I did that with the expectation that I would be setting up for whoever was going to be the administrator, the deputy administrator and the team that they all pulled together. I wasn't expecting that it would be me but when I was asked to lead, I of course could not say no, and it really does get back to public service and the experience that I've had in public service all of those years before is what brings me back, not only to GSA but to serve in the federal government. >> So here we are. You're back in public service and this time as Acting Administrator and also Deputy Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration. I'm going to preface this question with the caveat briefly, can you describe a typical day of running a federal agency like GSA? I know that no two days are alike, but what are some of things that you've had a chance to do since returning to the agency in January beside, you know, a million or so daily check-ins and meetings? >> Yes. Lots -- lots and lots of daily check-ins and meetings and because I am wearing two hats right now as you mentioned, both as the Deputy Administrator and the Acting Administrator, all of my days somewhat seem to just run together. It's one of those things where I can't believe I've only been back for 100 days and at the same time, I feel like I never left, but in these last 100 days, GSA has been doing so much and just getting me so excited about the work that I'm really, you know, looking forward to the next 100 days and the 100 days after that. I like to think of how I'm working and how GSA often works, as internal focused or external focused. So external focused or external facing, the work that GSA does with and for our partners and our customers and internal facing which is how GSAers are supported and working together. So some of the latest GSA highlights include supporting COVID relief through the procurement of things like protective gloves, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizers, face masks. We've also provided space for vaccination centers in Washington State, Puerto Rico, New York, Florida and Missouri. We -- I have been able to be the co-chair of the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, so making sure that those who do need to be in the facilities are safe, that they're wearing masks, that they're social distancing and trying to figure out what the next steps are in the return to work, return to facilities, or if that changes into a more of a max-telework situation. We've also been supporting small businesses and providing training to over, goodness, 5,000 small businesses on the federal procurement process and getting them on the schedule. We've increased the pool of small businesses that offer artificial intelligence, so A.I. and data analytics. Since January 20th of this year, OSDBU, which is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has trained approximately 1,117 small business representatives on the best way to sell A.I. and data analytics related to the products and services to the federal government, and you know I -- >> Wow. >> -- came from a place of small business just recently so it really is a big part of my excitement of being here. GSA is also a member of the National Climate Task Force and we started two new task groups, the environmental justice and equity task group and the decarbonization task group. We've also just recently been able to double down on our commitment from 2016, and we're now committing 100% renewable energy for our federal real estate portfolio by 2025, and we also hosted a tribal consultation to shape the way we work and approach tribal policy across GSA, and those are just the external facing things that we've been doing. Internally, I've been able to reconnect with friends and introduce myself to other GSAers. Thanks to this like virtual nature of our work right now, I've been able to drop into almost all of the GSA department meetings. I've held Coffee with Katy in all of our regions. I've also been able to meet with our GSA union leaders. We have -- started the GSA equity team and have reconnected with the GSA affinity special interest groups. And the teams at GSA are doing so much that I'm really proud of and really I'm looking forward to so much more. >> And I don't want to sound like a cheerleader, but it's only been a 100 days. >> It's true. It's true. >> I mean, it's pretty amazing. You know, you mention, of all the things that GSA does across government, you know, not just building and renovating federal buildings but the agency is also responsible for all the stuff it takes to make those buildings work and the processes that make some of those wheels turn, federal acquisitions and technology. Is that diversity of opportunities is part of what makes it such a great place for you to work? I mean, you are back for a second tour. >> Absolutely. When I was taking my time off from federal government work, I would joke that when watching the news, I could connect almost any story back to the work of GSA, so kind of like our own version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, because really GSA touches so much of what is going on in the federal government. The variety of work sometimes seems endless and this stems from the mission of the agency, and you're right. Supporting buildings and acquisition and technology really driving value for the federal government and the American people, but it's also the people that are driving that mission that are part of the reason that I said yes to the opportunity in serving this second tour. The people here are so dedicated to service and the jobs that they do are so varied. We have art historians at GSA that are responsible for thousands of federally commissioned artwork at PBS. In THAS we have the GSA auctions program where we auction off items available for bid that come from a variety of sources including surplus of government equipment, seized property, and gifts from foreign governments. We really have anything from a marine vessel to Bitcoin. And it's also the home of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program which provides the principles, values, and practices of the innovation economy into government through the most effective agents of change, which are our people and our jobs are not just here in Washington D.C. We have jobs in regions across the country and really there is a career for anyone here at GSA and a lot of the people advance their careers here as well. It's not just coming into GSA and leaving. It's people who are moving up and across the business lines. >> I'm Joan Kornblith. You're listening to FAS Focus from the U.S. General Services Administration. I'm talking with Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator Katy Kale about public service during public service recognition week. Now here's the tough one. What makes public service special fro you? What was the attraction or what is the attraction? >> Yeah. I think that it's continuing. It's -- there's so much that I love about public service. It's the mission. It's the people, the types of opportunities that there are, and really at the end of the day, the sense of purpose. As I said before, the people that I have worked with and for are some of the most incredible people. They are selfless. They work tirelessly, and time and time again, they answer the call of service. I'm constantly inspired by the great work that is being done all around me, and then the opportunity. There's no other place that has as many opportunities and does as many things as the federal government. At GSA, we have everything from property managers and contracting agents to fleet operations managers. We have architects, writers, coders, accountants, lawyers, data scientists and that's just all in one agency. At the end of the day, it's one of the things that I appreciate most about public service is that it's an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. One example of this is the recent government-wide call for volunteers to assist in the missions related to both COVID and to the unaccompanied children at the border and I am humbled to say that hundreds of GSAers stepped up and are starting to be deployed to these details. That also means that back here at headquarters and throughout the regions, their colleagues are also stepping up and stepping in to ensure that GSA is still functioning and still functions at the highest levels that we are expected, so it's humbling. >> I've been talking with Katy Kale, Acting Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration about her role with the agency and what attracted her to public service. So Katy, if somebody wants to come to work at GSA or really just get started in public service, what should they do? What is the first step? >> Well, first of all, I want to welcome you. Please, please come and join us. GSA is a wonderful place. A great place to get started is USA Jobs which is usajobs.gov. You could also visit the GSA LinkedIn page and you mentioned folks that are just getting started in their career and you know, here at GSA we utilize pathways for college graduates who are looking to launch their federal careers. In fact, we have a program called the emerging leaders program where we bring together and create cohorts of postgraduate students. They are full-time federal employees. They are moving through the GSA offices over a two-year plan and when they finish the program, they are formally placed in one of those GSA offices, but we're not just looking for people who are brand new to their career. We are also, you know, able to bring on wonderful veterans. We use the Veterans Hiring Authority to provide job opportunities in the civil service, to members of the Armed Services that are looking to transition into government work. We're able to use Schedule A to hire individuals with qualified disabilities and other direct hiring authorities for in-demand occupations such as IT specialists and that includes folks within our TTS program that really help with the technical talent that is needed throughout GSA. And finally, I don't want to steal from anybody, but we are always happy to have current federal employees from other agencies that are looking to make a change and really experience what makes GSA such an incredible, exciting, and innovative agency to work for in the federal government. >> Thanks so much, Katy, and happy public service recognition week to you and to everybody listening from this agency and any other agency. If you have questions for Katy or would like to learn more about GSA, or a career in public service or you just want to drop us a line. The address is [email protected] Coming up, news of another great training opportunity and some fascinating FAS facts. I'm Joan Kornblith and you are listening to GSA FAS Focus. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what is happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith and as always, we have got a full plate of FAS-specific webinars and trainings coming up. I'm joined now by our producer Max Stempora who is here with information about another training, specifically for folks new to the GSA Schedules program. Am I right, Max? >> That's right, Joan. This is one our contract holders are always asking for. I think it's a great training opportunity and it goes well with the webinar you talked about earlier. In fact, it even has a part two in its name, Marketing Your GSA Contract, Part 2. This session is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 13th and covers just what it says, marketing your GSA contract, presented by FAS and GSA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. This one-hour program will cover developing a federal marketing and sales strategy, an important tool that'll help you achieve success in the federal sector. This webinar will provide info and tips on creating an effective federal marketing plan with a targeted approach to government procurement. Again, it takes place on Thursday, May 13th from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Now about those time conversions, I know I shouldn't even ask, so just take it away, Joan. >> That's right. This is my parlor trick. You know, everybody has got one thing that they pull out at parties and stuff. It's this and figuring out tips at a restaurant. That's all the math that I enjoy doing in my head. Okay. 2 to 3 Eastern, that is much easier than the last time when we chose a session to talk about that started at 15 before the hour. I know that you tried to trip me up with that one. Anyway, Thursday, May 13th from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, that is 11 for my friends in Pacific Daylight Time, noon Mountain, 1 p.m. Central, and if you're in Adelaide, Australia where I do know people, it is 3:30 a.m. on the following morning. You are truly a dedicated employee for getting up that early for this training session. I'm Joan Kornblith. Coming up on FAS Focus, we have got a few fascinating FAS facts for you. Welcome back to FAS Focus. I am Joan Kornblith. We are almost out of time for today, but we did want to leave you with a few fascinating FAS facts. As it is public service recognition week, I think we should talk about the fine folks working for the U.S. government. Don't you? Don't you think that makes sense? >> Yeah. Sounds good. >> Okay. The figures we have today come from the office of personnel management and their data analysis group, specifically from their federal executive branch characteristics or FEBC report. We're talking about the executive branch. Now do you want to take a guess at how many people were employed in the federal civilian workforce in 2018? Now I'm going to qualify that a bit. We're talking about what is called the NSFTP, non-seasonal full-time permanent employees in the federal executive branch, so no uniformed service or postal workers or people in those temporary summer positions. How many -- >> Okay. >> -- people do you think? >> I'm just going to throw a number out there. I have no frame of reference for this. So let's say 2 million people. >> You are, Max, an incredibly good guesser. You are exceedingly close. In fact, I would almost say you got it. It's 1.87 million. >> I'm going to take that as a win. That's -- >> Yes. I'm going to put -- >> -- the closest I've gotten with this. >> Yes. Yes. That check goes in your -- on your side of the paper. 1.87 people -- 1.87 million people, and remember, that number is from 2018. That's the most recent FEBC survey we have. Okay. Now do you want to wager a guess, and I'm just saying wager. We don't actually bet anything. Do you want to wager a guess on which state had the most NSFTP federal employees in 2018? Now I will give you a hint. It was not our smallest state, or it was not Washington D.C. which isn't even a state. >> So I would think, you know, having come from the D.C. metro area, it's probably one of the states around D.C., so I'm going to guess Virginia. >> Close but not right. >> Oh. Then Maryland? >> Also close and also not right. >> Okay. Then I don't even know. Like those would have been -- like those are the two big ones in my mind. >> Think landmass. >> Okay. >> But not Alaska, you know? >> Well, isn't Texas next then in landmass, or -- >> I was surprised. Texas has a lot of federal employees. And it is quite large. If you've ever driven through it, you know it's quite large. >> Exactly. Yeah. >> California. >> Oh. >> In 2018, there were 152,857 federal employees in the state of California, followed by Virginia, D.C. and Maryland in that order. So yes, you were very close. And if you combined the Washington metro commuting area, it would beat California but -- >> There you go. >> -- individually -- >> I was close. >> Individually, California comes in top. This group is also highly educated. As of 2018, 53% of those employed across all branches of government that we're talking about held a bachelor's degree or higher. The median age of the NFSTP employees in 2018 was -- want to just throw out a number? >> I'm just going to throw out a number. Let's -- >> Median. >> -- forty-five. >> That's actually a pretty good guess, but you're skewing a little young. 48.3 years old, so half the employees were younger and half were older than 48.3 in 2018. I think if we were including the military and the postal service, that might have brought that down a little bit but remember again, these are just the non-seasonal full-time permanent employees in the federal executive branch that we're talking about, and the average length of service? >> Okay. So I'm going to guess, having almost been here for 20 years now, let's go 20, right? That seems like a good number. I'm just going to use my basis here. >> You know? That's what I would have thought also. I would be very wrong. It's 13.4 years. >> That's a lot lower than I thought it would be. >> So there must have been a lot recent hiring. >> Yeah. >> Or a lot of people retiring -- >> Retiring, yup. >> -- right before 2018. We're going to have investigate that more. This was a really fascinating set of facts and I have to say that I would love to see a more recent set but we don't have one. We couldn't get one, so hopefully the OPM and their data analysis group will put out another federal executive branch characteristics report at some time soon because that would be fun to play around with, taking a look at that. Anyway, those are all the fascinating FAS facts we have for you today. Don't forget. If there's anything else FAS-related you would like to learn about or someone you'd like to hear featured on FAS Focus, let us know. Send a note to [email protected] That is G-S-A-F-A-S [email protected] I'm Joan Kornblith. I put the words together. Max Stempora is the producer of the show. Dominee Ardas [phonetic] takes care of our social media. Thank you so much to Katy Kale for joining us in the studio this week. FAS Focus is a production of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Strategic Communication.