GSA nominee vows to repair relationship with inspector general

GSA Administrator-designate Martha Johnson testifies Wednesday on Capitol Hill. GSA Administrator-designate Martha Johnson testifies Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Harry Hamburg/AP
A contentious relationship with the inspector general can be the undoing of an agency head; just ask former General Services Administration chief Lurita A. Doan. Doan cites her very public feud with IG Brian Miller as the reason Bush administration officials asked her to resign in April 2008. In the wake of this controversy, Martha Johnson, President Obama's nominee to lead GSA, is taking the path toward conciliation.

"I have the highest regard for Brian Miller and the IG office at GSA, and I am deeply interested in being sure he is able to play his role in supporting us," Johnson said during her nomination hearing on Wednesday. "A good IG allows an administrator to sleep at night, and I don't want to diminish that role in any way."

While it may be necessary for Johnson to focus on repairing relations with the IG's office, Doan said in an interview that the far more important challenge for the incoming administrator will be assuring contracting officers that she stands with them. The agency, she said, has received budget increases to support oversight of procurement, but funding to beef up the acquisition workforce has remained flat, leaving contracting officers feeling threatened and disenfranchised.

"The IG situation at GSA is pretty fierce," Doan said. "One of her biggest challenges will be keeping faith with those federal procurement officers and making them understand that they will not have to fight that battle alone."

Being an advocate for contracting workers, Doan said, will require faith in employees' extensive training and professionalism, and budgetary support. She said Johnson will have the authority to increase funding for the contracting workforce if confirmed, ensuring, at least, that some of the administrative workload -- made heavier still by requirements for implementing the economic stimulus package -- is lifted.

Lawmakers, who were acutely aware of the tension between Doan and Miller, asked Johnson to describe her view of the relationship between the administrator and the IG in advance of her nomination hearing. In the pre-hearing questionnaire, Johnson said the IG plays a critical and valuable oversight, investigatory and analytical role.

"I believe that the relationship between the GSA administrator and GSA IG can be and needs to be respectful, regular, open and productive," she wrote.

In a statement to Government Executive, Miller said it was a historic moment for GSA and the nation and he and his staff looked forward to working with Johnson to meet the challenges under the Recovery Act.

"I am encouraged by Martha Johnson's statements in her confirmation hearing," Miller said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.