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DorobekINSIDER: DC snowpocalypse delays swearing in ceremony for GSA’s Johnson

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DC’s snowpocalypse has delayed the swearing in ceremony for GSA’s newly confirmed administrator Martha Johnson. The DorobekINSIDER told you last week that the swearing in ceremony was scheduled to be Tuesday at 2p ET at GSA HQ. But given that there is yet another storm eying the Nation’s Capital, GSA officials have decided to delay that ceremony to Thursday, Feb. 11 at 2p ET at GSA HQ.

The note to staff:

Martha Johnson Swearing-In Moved to Thursday Good Afternoon GSA

Due to the inclement weather in and around the Washington, D.C. metro area we have decided to postpone our welcoming for Martha Johnson. The
Swearing-In Town Hall event has been tentatively rescheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 2 p.m. For employees in Central Office, we will continue to keep you updated on details for attending the event. For employees in the regions, we will be sure to update you on how to watch the ceremony on InSite.

Thank you for your patience!

Frankly, I’m not sure what Johnson is able to do pre-swearing in — whether that is a formality. I’ve asked, but if you know…

Written by cdorobek

February 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM

DorobekINSIDER: Welcome to the new GSA administrator, Martha N. Johnson

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We’ve been following the saga forever, but the vote finally happened Thursday afternoon — we had it live as it happened on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris — the Senate first voted to close debate on the Johnson nomination … and then proceeded to confirm Martha N. Johnson as the new administrator of the General Services Administration.

We hear that the swearing in ceremony will take place Tuesday, February 9th at 2p at GSA headquarters. (I’m working on official confirmation, but… this is the word at the moment.)

One curious note: When the vote was first taken, it was 94-2 — four senators (Coburn, Benett, Isaskson and Hutchinson) did not vote — and two senators, Jim Bunning and Jeff Sessions, voted against. But the officially tally as posted by the Senate’s Web site shows a 96-0 vote. I’m not sure how that works, exactly. And, ironically, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) — the senator who had held up Johnson’s vote — voted to confirm Johnson. But that came after an impassioned floor speech.

That’s the news. Below, you’ll find Johnson’s first public comments coming from the GSA press release… Sens. Lieberman and Collins comments… and Bond’s floor speech itself…

First off, Johnson speaks out in a GSA press release:

“My priority as Administrator will be to put GSA’s expertise to work developing and executing policies and products that will create a greener, more efficient, more cost-effective, more open, and more responsible government,” Johnson added. “By building on GSA’s success thus far, we will provide a streamlined platform for our customer agencies to implement innovative technologies and solutions to decrease government operating costs and increase efficiencies in government service delivery.”

Read the full release here.

Meanwhile, Sen. Kit Bond’s floor speech about GSA and Martha Johnson, which runs about 12-minutes:

I have also pulled selective clips from Sen. Bond’s speech.

Here is Bond defending his hold – particularly after President Obama chided senators for holds for unrelated items, although he didn’t mention Bond or anybody by name. Here is the President on Tuesday:

We’ve got a huge backlog of folks who are unanimously viewed as well qualified, nobody has a specific objection to them, but end up having a hold on them because of some completely unrelated piece of business.  That’s an example … of the kind of stuff that Americans just don’t understand.

Bond says the people he is protecting are the feds in Kansas City (0:27):

Bond: Johnson’s qualifications are not in doubt (0:12)

Bond: GSA needs to do their job (0:17)

Finally, the release from Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee :

Senate Votes 94-2

WASHINGTON—Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday welcomed the confirmation of Martha Johnson to be General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator. Johnson, who was unanimously approved by the Committee on June 8, 2009, was confirmed by a vote of 94-2. Her confirmation had been blocked for six months for reasons unrelated to her qualifications.

“I am delighted the Senate has finally voted to confirm Ms. Johnson, an extremely qualified and experienced nominee, so she can begin her important work on behalf of the American people,” Lieberman said. “The hold that had been placed on her for six months had nothing to do with her qualifications or personal history. Her nomination received the unanimous support of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June and she has overwhelming bipartisan support in the full Senate.

“We cannot continue the practice of holding nominees ‘hostage’ for parochial reasons unrelated to a nominee’s ability to do the job they’ve been they’ve been nominated for. These kinds of things anger the public and damage the Senate as an institution.

“Given her experience as a former GSA Chief of Staff, Ms. Johnson knows the agency inside and out and is prepared to hit the ground running. I am grateful that GSA will now have the stable leadership it needs.”

Collins said: “Martha Johnson has significant experience in both the private sector and the federal government. She served previously as GSA’s Chief of Staff, helping to lead that agency at a time of substantial change. Today, the GSA faces even greater challenges and demands than when Ms. Johnson served there more than eight years ago. I am confidence she will provide much-needed leadership to this agency that provides many important procurement services to the federal government.”

Yesterday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Bob Woods, the president of TopSide Consulting and the former commissioner of GSA’s then Federal Technology Service. He noted that one of the challenges Johnson faces is the pent up anticipation around her nomination — there is so much hope for her, if she doesn’t walk on water, people will end up being disappointed.

I’m sure she will be getting a lot of advice in the coming days, weeks, months… and years.

DorobekInsider: Obama expected to nominate GAO’s Gordon to OFPP post — soon

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There have been all kinds of names floating around, but… expect the White House to nominate Daniel Gordon, the deputy general counsel for the Government Accountability Office, to be nominated… and possibly very soon.

Gordon will well liked and respected — and yet an interesting selection. He has focused on workforce issues, but he also serves as GAO’s ethics counselor. And it is interesting to select an OFPP administrator from the oversight community. One procurement insider tells me that he has a “brilliant mind” and that he has an “interesting background — including having served in the Israeli Army.”

Here is Gordon’s bio:

Deputy General Counsel, Government Accountability Office (GAO) July 2006 to present

Prior positions at GAO:
* Managing Associate General Counsel, (head of Procurement Law 2000-July 2006 Division, GAO’s bid protest unit)
* Associate General Counsel (deputy head of Procurement 1997-2000 Law Division)
* Assistant General Counsel, Legal Services Division 1995-1997 (primary duties involved personnel law & managing administrative litigation of internal personnel matters)
* Senior attorney, Procurement Law Division 1992-1995 (adjudicating bid protests)

* Member, Adjunct Faculty, George Washington University 2002-present
* Law School (co-teaching: Formation of Government Contracts; Comparative & International Public Procurement)
* Associate, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson 1987-1992

* Court Law Clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of 1986-1987
* Columbia Circuit Education Harvard Law School (J.D., 1986, cum laude)
* Executive editor, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

* Oxford University (M.Phil., 1974)
* Brandeis University (B.A., 1972, summa cum laude)

Also studied at:

* Tel-Aviv University (doctoral studies in German history) (1981-82)
* University of Marburg (Germany) (1972)
* University of Munich (Germany) (1971)
* Institute of Political Studies (Paris) (1970-71)

There have been a number of names that have been floated around… I also heard most of them — and dis-confirmed them. FCW acquisition reporter Matthew Weigelt has been tracking it fairly closely — and he has a good story assessing what people hope comes from the new OPFF administrator. And Weigelt has reported some of the names that have been making the rounds — Cathy Garman a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, David Gragan, the chief procurement officer for the District of Columbia, and David Yarkin, president of Government Sourcing Solutions.

Again, expect an announcement… soon.

Written by cdorobek

September 29, 2009 at 9:18 AM

DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out

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One of the key Obama administration posts still vacant is the role of GSA administrator. Of course, Martha Johnson was nominated in April, and she made it through the Senate committee in June, but her nomination has been… on hold… literally.

There have been several stories flying around — one was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had actually pulled her name off the nomination list because, as the story goes, GSA had told agencies that the government could not travel to Las Vegas in Reid’s home state. In fact, the WSJ had this report on July 22:

Government Meeting? Stay Away From Fun City

What do Reno, Orlando and Las Vegas have in common? To some pockets of the federal government, they just seem like too much fun.

Instead, employees at some big agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are being encouraged to host meetings in more buttoned-down places such as St. Louis, Milwaukee or Denver….

Earlier this month, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the chamber’s majority leader, expressed concern to the White House about a prohibition on government travel to resort destinations. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wrote back saying that government travel “is not focused on specific destinations,” but on cost and efficiency.

The General Services Administration, which sets the amount government employees can spend per day at each destination, has no ban on locations.

But some agencies appear to be instituting their own guidelines that dictate where events should be held.

According to an Agriculture Department employee familiar with the guidelines, the agency issued internal travel guidelines in the spring that encourage employees to hold meetings in cities that display three key attributes: a travel hub; low in cost; and “a non-resort location.” The employee said cities on the list with those three attributes included Chicago; Denver; Portland, Ore.; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee; Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colo.

Resort locations aren’t banned, “but you have to provide robust justification” to supervisors for approval to hold an event there, the employee said.

Read the full story here.

Apparently there never was a ban on travel to the hurting Las Vegas — although there is a lot of mis-information out there about travel.

But it appears that the hold on Johnson’s nomination is by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), as reported Friday by the Kansas City Star:

Bond blocks GSA nominee in action tied to downtown KC federal building

The Kansas City Star

Posted on Fri, Aug. 21, 2009

Sen. Kit Bond is blocking approval of the president’s choice to lead the General Services Administration, adding pressure on Washington to approve a proposed downtown federal office building.

Bond, who has been a leader in the effort to build the estimated $175 million project since it was first proposed in 2006, has placed a hold on the appointment of Martha Johnson.

Johnson, a former GSA chief of staff, was recommended for the post by President Barack Obama in April and was endorsed by the Senate Government Affairs Committee in June.

The GSA acts as the federal government’s landlord and also buys goods and services for federal agencies.

Bond could not be reached for comment Friday, but an aide confirmed his decision to block Johnson’s appointment.

Read the full story here.

Of course, it still is a bit remarkable that senators can put holds on nominations without having to be up front about it.

We’ll continue to track the story. One can assume that this will get resolved soon — one way or another.

Written by cdorobek

August 23, 2009 at 9:42 PM Senate approves Zients as the new chief performance officer

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The Senate Friday confirmed the nomination of Jeffrey Zients to be the OMB deputy director of management and the Obama administration’s chief performance officer. The Senate Homeland Security Committee had signed off on his nomination earlier in the month. Zients replaces Clay Johnson, who served as the OMB deputy director of management during most of the Bush administration.

Zients (photo: Wikipedia)

Zients (photo: Wikipedia)

The Senate, however, did not take action on the nomination of Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Services Administration, the other position that we have been watching carefully. We’ve been hearing that a number of posts have been held up in a Senate squabble over the Supreme Court nomination process and when that should be scheduled.

Here are some Zients/chief performance officer resources:

* OMB director Peter Orszag posted a blog welcome to Zients.

* Federal News Radio Max Cacas was at the hearing. Hear that report here.

* Jon Desenberg, Policy Director at the Performance Institute, spoke to Francis Rose of Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose, about the role of the chief performance officer. Hear that here.

* And the DorobekInsider CTO and CPO reader.

The other posts confirmed by the Senate on Friday can be found here.

Written by cdorobek

June 22, 2009 at 9:16 AM The White House makes it official: Johnson nominated to be GSA administrator

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We told you it was coming — in fact, we hinted at it back in January, but it is now official: Martha Johnson has been nominated to be the administrator of the General Services Administration.

The notice posted by the White House at 6:28p tonight — but not on the White House Web site yet [UPDATE: The release is posted here] :

Office of the Press Secretary
April 3, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts: Peter S.
Silva, Assistant Administrator for Water Programs, Environmental Protection Agency; and Martha Johnson, Administrator, General Services Administration.

President Obama said, “The dedication and intelligence that these fine public servants will bring to their respective roles gives me confidence that they will be effective and important additions to our team as we work to tackle the many challenges our nation faces.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:…

Martha Johnson, Nominee for Administrator, General Services Administration

Martha Johnson served as co-lead for the Obama Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for GSA and is the Vice President of Culture at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a role she has held since 2007. As vice president, Johnson is helping direct the change in culture within the 90,000 person corporation. From 2002 to 2007, Johnson was a vice president at SRA International where she managed a strategic consulting group that served federal clients including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor. From 1996 – 2001, Johnson was Chief of Staff at the GSA, coordinating and supporting the strategic reinvention of a 20,000 person agency from a mandatory supplier of goods and services to a competitive, supplier-of-choice. From 1993 to 1996, Johnson served as the Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Office of the Deputy Secretary. Johnson was a Search Manager for the Office of Presidential Personnel in 1993. Before joining the Clinton Administration, she worked in a series of jobs that rounded out her business credentials in finance, marketing and diversity consulting in Human Relations management.

Martha Johnson received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1974 and her M.B.A. from Yale University in 1979.

Written by cdorobek

April 3, 2009 at 6:11 PM Martha Johnson to be nominated as GSA administrator soon — maybe today

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We’ve been through this before, but… we’re hearing — from very good and multiple sources — that the Obama administration will name Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Service Administration as soon as today — but certainly by Monday.

Of course, we are also hearing that GSA’s White House liason, Michael Robertson, is away on travel today, so… would the White House name somebody while that agency’s White House liaison was out of town? (Probably.)

Johnson served on the Obama administration’s GSA “parachute” team — the group that flies into agencies to do a transition assessment. And Johnson has GSA ties, serving as the GSA chief of staff during under GSA Administrator David Baram, who is widely seen as one of the best GSA administrators in some time. (It should be noted that FirstGov, which became and was originally proposed as WebGov, started under Baram and the Clinton administration. It is remarkable to see how far things have evolved. The Bush administration was wise to continue to evolve what is now A good lesson for incoming administrations — not everything the former team did was bad.)

We had been hearing that Johnson had turned down the GSA administrator post because of personal, family issues, but that apparently is not true.

Highlights of Johnson’s career from her resume on her LinkedIn profile:

* Vice President at SRA International
* Director at Touchstone Consulting Group
* Vice President at Council for Excellence in Government
* Vice President at Computer Sciences Corporation

Back on May 1999, there was this article in Fast Company magazine that featured Barram and Johnson:

Here’s How GSA Changed Its Ways [Fast Company, May 1999]
Led by Dave Barram, a 24-year veteran of Silicon Valley, and a group of rank-and-file change agents, one of Washington’s stodgiest agencies is learning to be nimble — and to “thrill” its customers.

Read the full Fast Company story here.

Meanwhile, back in April 25, 2000, Baram and Johnson were on the Business of Government Hour sponsored by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. (Read it hereHere it here. MP3)

Written by cdorobek

April 3, 2009 at 4:36 PM