So now former administrator Martha Johnson has written a book about her days at GSA. More power to her. I haven’t read the book yet but I’m sure it’s a good read, especially for ex-GSA junkies like me. My comments are not intended as a knock against Ms. Johnson, but are more about the system with which she was saddled.
This is presumably a management and leadership book, at least according to its Amazon classification. Yet during Ms. Johnson’s watch GSA was riddled with questionable management policies and run more by White House politicians than experienced public sector managers. Not much different than when I joined GSA in 1965. This was her second tour at GSA so she knew exactly what she was getting into. As I said many times, from my experience at GSA, politics ruled and since GSA was responsible for so many pet projects and pork projects it received more than its share of quiet attention from the Congress.
One comment on the GovLoop interview. Ms. Johnson was far too polite and politically correct in explaining her taking the fall for the GSA so-called scandal. In some of my other posts, and in my own pre-scandal book, I didn’t mince words with my opinions as a senior level insider and as the subject of my share of investigations. This was not a scandal, but more a case of some bad business decisions which became a ready made subject for political grandstanding in an election year. Ms. Johnson was a convenient scapegoat to create the illusion that the White House was acting quickly and decisively. As I pointed out in my second YouTube extravaganza, there was absolute evidence that the White House acted hastily and without due process. She knew the risks of a political appointment and her staged resignation was her gesture of loyalty to the administration. The real scandal is yet to come. GSA spent more money “punishing the innocent” than the questionable costs in the audit report that started it all.
Speaking of the audit report, it’s been a year and a half since the report and three years since the incident. What happened to the criminal charges promised by a publicity seeking inspector general? As expected, more fluff than evidence. Those responsible for this so-called scandal have taken their punishment through administrative means and those falsely charged in order for the White House to save face are still fighting the issue. GSA has not been quick to publicize the actions which have been overturned and those still in litigation.
For more pithy commentary check out the links to my blogs and YouTube presentations on my website. http://www.thegovernmentman.com