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Was the GSA Scandal a Political Hatchet Job? — Maybe so says one former GSA-er

Was the GSA Scandal a Political Hatchet Job? — Maybe so says one former GSA-er by GovLoop Insights

Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week, there has been a lot going on, but there was one issue that dominated the government world… yes, that acronym — GSA. The fervor over the 2010 GSA Public Building Service’s Western Region Conference reached new heights this week.

Some highlights of the week on the DorobekINSIDER

  • We talked at length about the STOCK Act and how it may impact federal senior executives — the bill will essentially require the financial disclosure forms of the government’s senior executives be made available — publicly — online.
  • Mr. GovLoop — Steve Ressler’s — favorite item from the week was our conversation about leadership lessons from presidents. We spoke to Michael Eric Siegel, author of the new book, “The President as Leader,” which looks at five recent presidents for lessons about what one should do… and what they shouldn’t.
  • Ever think “what in the world am I doing? Where am I going in this job/career?” This week we had the second part of our three-part conversation with Frank DiGiammarino. Frank has created a career framework for your career — not just to be successful, but how you can also be happy in your career. Yes — happy. The first part of our conversation focused on WHO — what questions you need to ask yourself. This week, we looked at WHAT — what job is right. And he told us about his favorite framework – the DOOM loop (if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a must!). It sounds like a Star Trek character — very ominous.

But our issue of the week: looks at once again at the General Services Administration and the billowing furry around that GSA Public Building Service’s 2010 Western Regions Conference. It was an almost surreal week. The acting GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini produced a public mea culpa video where he apologized and announced the steps that GSA was taking including re-examining conference costs… looking back and looking forward. And late this week, the Washington Post reported that former GSA PBS Commissioner Robert Peck had called the conference a “managerial lapse” and giving the organizer a slap on the wrist.

There’s been a lot of discussion of this topic on GovLoop, as you can imagine. One former GSA-er says this scandal might not actually be what it looks like. In his controversial post on GovLoop Alan Greenberg a retired Regional Commissioner at GSA calls the IG report a political hatchet job. I asked him why.

GREENBERG by cdorobek

Weekend reads

  • The issue of BusinessWeek that hits the streets today contains their second annual how-to issue, and it includes how-to ideas from a wide range of people. One of them is by Carol Bartz, who was recently ousted as the CEO of Yahoo… she offers her thoughts on how to speak your mind. She says that agreeing is easy. Disagreeing takes more guts. Ford CEO Alan Mulally says if you want honest feedback you have to show people that it’s safe for them to give it. And Web guru Anil Dash has a piece on how to win a Twitter fight. The real way to win a Twitter fight to do move to a platform where you have more than 140 characters — like a blog post.
  • And how is technology changing leadership? I’m actually moderating a panel for the ACT/IAC Voyagers — these are young government and industry members who team up to learn from each other. And they are having a panel of leaders who are going to talk about that issue, among others. And they are using GovLoop to spur the discussion. My take is that we are moving away from technologies like e-mail — and moving to collaborative technologies… like Twitter… like Facebook… like GovLoop… and that is going to be a very different experience for leaders. Love to get your thoughts — find it online… DorobekINSIDER.com
  • Finally, I can’t let the week pass without tipping my hat to one of the greats in our world… John Monroe left his post as the editor in chief of Federal Computer Week yesterday. And I was honored and thrilled to be one of a parade of editors who toasted him this week. John Monroe may not be a household name, but to those of us who know him, he is one of the best. He has been an incredible mentor for me — and many other reporters in this space. He understood that our job was to tell stories that helped people do their job better — and he took honor and pride in that. He moves on to be a minister — still using words to help people live better lives. I’m honored to have worked with him. He is a remarkable journalist, editor — and person. All the best John.

The producers of GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER are Emily Jarvis and Stephen Peteritas.

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Christopher Whitaker

It doesn’t matter if it was a hatchet job or not. In a political environment where one side of the aisle regards public servants as the enemy, we can’t afford even one mistake. They are LOOKING for a reason to slam government – to justify their claims that we are the reason we’re in debt, that we’re in a recession, that we’re destroying the American dream. It’s all bullcrap, but those in government need to be the fiercest critic of government waste, inefficiency, and any and all unethical behavior. We always have to look at our own budgets and behavior as if somebody is standing behind us wanting a reason to fire us – because they are. If there was one criticism that I would make of the open government movement, it’s that we don’t do a good job of letting the public know that public servants are actively campaigning to swing open the windows of government and let people see every detail of what we do on a day to day basis.