The General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) has never really fit in well with the agency’s overall mission of federal real estate management and acquisition. Started during the Obama administration as a way to help federal agencies develop and acquire innovative IT, TTS lost money for years, was at the center of agency in-fighting and now is the subject of a third negative audit in just under seven years.  If TTS were a contractor it would be proposed for suspension or debarment.

It would be one thing if the relatively small office’s damage was self-contained. That’s not the case, though, as federal chief information officers are now openly expressing concern with GSA as an agency. As Federal News Network’s Jason Miller recently cited, federal CIO’s don’t want TTS anywhere around their operations. That negative experience is casting doubt on GSA’s core IT acquisition capabilities. GSA simply can’t afford to have one of the smallest parts of its operation upend the positive projects they have, such as the GSA schedules program, Alliant 2 and the upcoming Alliant 3 and OASIS+ contracts.

Reforming TTS doesn’t seem to be an option, either. That’s already been tried, but has never worked out well. TTS was once a third service inside GSA, on an equal footing with the Public Building Service (PBS) and Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). That didn’t last long once reports of TTS operations losing money and failing to operate within federal agency guidelines came out. The Trump administration had tried to further subordinate TTS by having it run by an assistant commissioner, as opposed to a special deputy commissioner. The Biden administration, however, nixed that idea, no doubt in part due to support for TTS from current GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan who served in TTS in the Obama years. As Miller’s article points out, it is unusual for an agency to operate with two deputy commissioners.

Despite assurances over several years that TTS would operate within federal agency rules and operate in a responsible manner, it most recently misled federal executives and others on the project, intended to be a single point of entry through which federal employees and citizens would be able to gain access to necessary information. The mess over has required the time and attention of senior GSA officials, including FAS Commissioner Sonny Hashmi, who has had to spend his time assuring customer agencies that will, one day, have its act together. Carnahan, who usually touts TTS as the solution to many a federal IT problem, has been largely silent on this issue, requiring her subordinates to carry the load.

Successful executives in and outside of government know that you can’t run a sound organization by letting the tail wag the dog, regardless of whether the tail, itself, is the favored pet of the agency’s head. TTS remains a significant distraction from GSA’s core missions — missions that, ironically, have previously helped offset losses posted by TTS. The service is supposed to be dedicated to serving customer agency needs. Based on that criteria, alone, it’s tough to justify maintaining the organization when so many would-be customers have publicly said they won’t use it.

GSA would send a strong message that it is serious about solving all of’s issues and about serving customer agencies via its core missions if it shut down TTS.

Larry Allen is the president of Allen Federal Business Partners and has been involved in federal procurement for more than three decades.