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Outraged by the GSA spending scandal? Insights from a former GSA Commissioner

The DorobekINSIDER Issue of the Week:

The Washington Post has declared that GSA clearly had the worst week in Washington. This week, GSA administrator Martha Johnson resigned amid allegations of excessive spending at a conference. GSA Inspector General Brian Miller issued a report detailing contracting irregularities and excessive spending after a Las Vegas conference.

The reports says GSA spent more than $800,000 on a training and entertainment…including $6,300 on commemorative Recovery Act coins housed in velvet boxes and $75,000 on a bicycle-building training exercise. Federal News Radio says the conference happened back in October 2010 just seven months after Johnson took office. The administration fired GSA Building Services Commissioner Robert Peck, and it dismissed Stephen Leeds, an aide to Johnson.

Are you outraged by the GSA spending?

Jim Williams served as the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service until he retired. Today, he is a Senior Vice President for Global Business Development at Daon. He told Chris Dorobek what he thinks about this whole situation.


Outraged by the GSA spending scandal? Insights from a former GSA Commissioner by GovLoop Insights

That brings us to your weekend reads… we know weekend time is precious, so we try to pull some stories throughout the week that are worth your time… and may just plant a seed for new ideas…
  • Jeff Bezos’s business insights… Forbes asked the founder of Amazon.com for his top 10 leadership lessons, and they are short and sweet… and I thought they were pretty insightful. He says to base your strategy on things that won’t change and be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. One of my favorites: Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove, we’ll settle for intense. And he stresses that in the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service — and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts. And all of his items focus on the customer.
  • The cover of BusinessWeek this week highlights Google’s growth challenges. They talk to Google CEO Larry Page who says that the soul of the company is the same. Of course, regulators and privacy advocates may think Google has violated its “don’t be evil” motto, but Page brushes off the charges. In BusinessWeek, he argues that the company is doing far more to make peoples’ lives better. And though he bridles at any suggestion that Google isn’t the destiny-defining innovator it once was, he admits that the company dropped the ball on social networking.
  • Your best resource? Harvard’s Steve Kelman says it is the desire of government workers to serve. And he says that it something that isn’t always tapped.
  • At FOSE on Thursday, there was an interesting discussion among women leaders in government technology. And there was a discussion of the role of social media in their lives — or, to be honest, the lack of use of social media. And one leader said that their world is dictated by e-mail. That’s probably true for most of us, right. But you can see that changing — and there is a just fascinating discussion on @govloop: Should Email be banned at work? – http://bit.ly/I1jCJa And Forbes has a list of the top 25 most social CIO’s in the Fortune 250… tweeting CIOs… yes, there are some in government too…GSA’s Casey Coleman gets a special mention on the list, but NASA’s Linda Cureton is out there too.
  • Finally, the White House — it’s just an icon. And now you can get a 360-degree tour online. The White House is one of several federal museums participating in the expanded Google Art Project. The Freer Gallery of Art was the first Smithsonian to sign up more than a year ago. Directors said it has been a game-changer that lets viewers see art in finer detail than with the naked eye. Now three more Smithsonians have signed on, including the National Portrait Gallery. The art project uses Google Street View technology to create virtual tours of the museums’ highlights. It’s pretty awesome.

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