The General Services Administration (GSA) serves as the federal government’s lead acquisition agency, providing everything from office supplies to automobiles to buildings for the U.S. government’s workforce of more than one million employees. The GSA manages more than one-fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in assets, including 8,600 government-owned or leased buildings, more than 425 historic properties and 208,000 vehicles.
Before the General Services Administration (GSA) existed, the federal government relied on a multitude of offices to provide it with supplies, buildings, and other services. The GSA was established by President Harry Truman on July 1, 1949, to absorb the duties of the National Archives Establishment, the Federal Works Agency and its Public Buildings Administration, the Bureau of Federal Supply and the Office of Contract Settlement, and the War Assets Administration.
GSA’s original mission was to dispose of war surplus goods, manage and store government records, handle emergency preparedness, and stockpile strategic supplies for wartime. The GSA also regulated the sale of various office supplies to federal agencies and managed some unusual operations, like hemp plantations in South America.
In the 1950s, the GSA took on a major overhaul of the White House. “Really, it was more than a renovation; it was a rebuilding,” said GSA Administrator Jess Larson. As part of the country’s girding for World War III with the Soviet Union, the GSA took on the critical assignment of emergency preparedness and began stockpiling strategic materials to be used in wartime. The GSA retained various emergency management functions until they were transferred to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979.
In 1960, the GSA created the Federal Telecommunications System, a government-wide inter-city telephone system. In 1962, the Ad Hoc Committee on Federal Office Space recommended a major new building program to address obsolete office buildings in Washington D.C., resulting in the construction of many of the offices that now line Independence Avenue.
Authorized in 1971, the Federal Buildings Fund became operational in 1974 when the GSA issued its first rent bills to federal agencies. In 1972, the Administration established The Automated Data and Telecommunications Service, which evolved into the Office of Information Resources Management 10 years later. In 1973, GSA created the Office of Federal Management Policy, and GSA’s Office of Acquisition Policy centralized procurement policy in 1978.
In 1984, the GSA introduced the federal government to the use of charge cards. In 1987, it opened its first childcare center (it now manages 112 federal childcare facilities for more than 8,000 children across the country). In 1985, it began to provide government-wide policy oversight and guidance for federal real property management as a result of an Executive Order signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Inspired by the “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” the GSA’s Public Building Service (PBS) introduced the Design Excellence Program to streamline the way GSA selects architects and engineers for major construction projects. In 1995, the GSA formed the Courthouse Management Group to manage the largest courthouse construction project in 50 years. Also, by 1995, all of its policy functions were merged into the Office of Government-wide Policy, which sets policy in the areas of personal and real property, travel and transportation, information technology, regulatory information, and use of federal advisory committees. By the end of the 1990s, the agency had launched GSA Advantage!™, an online portal for federal employees to purchase services and equipment through the agency, and it had merged the Information Technology Service and the Federal Telecommunication Service into the Federal Technology Service (FTS).
In September 2000, the GSA launched FirstGov.gov to simplify citizen access to government information and services. The following year, it assumed responsibility for President George W. Bush’s five E-Gov Initiatives: E-Authentication (now IDManagement), Federal Asset Sales, Integrated Aquisition Environment (IAE), and USA Services.
In July 2002, GSA established the Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC) to manage its citizen-centered activities in a single organization. OCSC was designed to enable state and local governments, the public, businesses and the media to interact with the federal government online, via email, telephone, fax, or print.
In 2005, the GSA consolidated the FTS into the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), which was established to help the GSA better align the delivery of its services.
One of the reasons the GSA was founded was for emergency preparedness. In November 2006, the Office of Emergency Response and Recovery was formed to help the U.S. in case of a national disaster.
Part of this mission was met in 2008 when the GSA began offering 10-year contracts to private companies to set up contact centers for various government agencies during emergencies. The contracts totaled $2.5 billion.
To comply with President Bush’s National Continuity Policy, GSA implemented The National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (NCPIP) (pdf) in 2007 to ensure the timely recovery of the executive branch from any operational interruption and provide a centralized procurement system for all department and agencies.
Also in 2007, the GSA launched USA.gov (a renaming and upgrading of FirstGov.gov), which provides citizens access to more than 180 million pages of online federal, state, local, and tribal government information. The GSA then unveiled GobiernoUSA.gov, which makes federal, state, and local government information and services more accessible to those who speak Spanish.
In 2009, the GSA revamped OSCS into the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies as a means to connect the public to government information and services through innovative technologies. The GSA also implemented the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which awarded more than $5 billion to more than 500 companies across the U.S. to convert federal sites into “higher performing, greener buildings.”
In recent years, the GSA has focused on going green. In 2010, President Barack Obama announced that the older cars in the federal fleet would be replaced with fuel-efficient hybrids, cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil and carbon dioxide emissions. In April 2010, the GSA bought 5,600 hybrids. A 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the federal supply chain was the target of GSA’s 2010 Sustainability Plan. In July 2011, the GSA released a plan to require government contractors to track their greenhouse gas emissions, or risk losing out on contracts.
Public outreach, including transparency and information sharing, has also been a priority for the GSA under the Obama administration. Since 2010, the agency has launched a Social Media Directory and, in response to President Obama’s Open Government Directive, the Data.gov web site to make information publicly available.
The General Services Administration (GSA) functions as the U.S. government’s supplier of goods, services, and property for all federal agencies. GSA is responsible for helping the federal government operate on a day-to-day basis, managing $500 billion in federal assets, 8,600 federally owned or leased buildings, 208,000 vehicles, and 425 historic properties. In effect, the GSA is the source of everything from paperclips to multistory buildings for federal employees to utilize.
Even though the GSA’s budget is quite large ($24 billion), only 1.9% of it is provided through direct Congressional appropriations. The majority of its operating costs are recovered through the products and services it sells to other federal agencies.
The GSA serves as the acquisition and procurement arm of the federal government, offering equipment, supplies, telecommunications, and integrated information technology solutions to federal agencies. It also develops government-wide regulations and policies designed to help make federal operations cost-effective.
Design and Construction: The GSA is responsible for meeting the space requirements of federal agencies by providing policy direction and standards in the areas of Architecture & Engineering, CAD Standards, Commissioning, Construction Excellence, Design Excellence and the Arts, Sustainable Design, Urban Development, and Spatial Data Management.
Environmental Programs: The goal of these programs is to eliminate all damage to the environment resulting from federal operations, especially in the areas of design, construction, operation, maintenance, and disposal of thousands of federally owned real estates. The environment program works in coordination with the Sustainable Design and Energy programs. It also includes efforts involving Energy & Water Conservation, Fire Protection and Life Safety, GSA NEPA Implementation, Hazardous Materials, Integrated Pest Management, Landscaping, Waste Minimization, Asbestos Management, and Energy Awareness.
GSA Properties: The GSA owns and leases over 354 million square feet of space in more than 2,200 communities nationwide. In addition to office buildings, GSA properties include land ports of entry, courthouses, laboratories, post offices, and data processing centers.
Historic Preservation: The GSA’s historic preservation program provides technical and strategic expertise to promote the viability, reuse, and integrity of historic buildings GSA owns, leases, and has the opportunity to acquire. Areas within this program include Archaeology, Building Manager Tools, Historic Buildings, Portfolio Management Resources, and Project Management Tools.
Facilities Management & Services: The GSA provides facilities management services for more than one million federal workers through its Public Buildings Service. Facilities management services include the following: cleaning, ground maintenance, utilities, building systems, and equipment maintenance, along with Child Care, Security, and
Governmentwide Real Property Information Sharing services.
Professional & Technical Solutions: The GSA provides a wide range of quality professional and technical services that cover Advertising, Marketing & PR, Business Consulting (MOBIS), Contact Center Services, Financial & Accounting Services, HR & Administrative Services, Logistics, Warehousing, & Distribution, and Professional Engineering Services (PES).
Shared Services: Federal departments and offices often have the same needs, which prompted the GSA to develop share services, such as:
Office & Furniture: The GSA can provide solutions for agencies office needs, such as Office Equipment, Office Supplies, and furniture solutions.
Security, Fire, & Law Enforcement: The GSA provides a full range of commercial products and services covering such areas as law enforcement, firefighting, and security products and services. These products and services may be found within four programs: 1122 Counterdrug Program; Security Solutions; Wildland Fire Program; and Security Alert Levels Nationwide. The Security and Law Enforcement Solutions Program offers the following five broad categories: Federal Supply Class 19 (Marine Craft and Equipment);
Federal Supply Class 84 (Law Enforcement and Security Equipment).
Travel, Transportation, & Vehicles: This division covers needs in the areas of Transportation Programs, Transportation Audits, Travel, Vehicle Buying, and
Technology & Telecommunications: Everything from phones to Internet needs are provided through this program that covers IT Services, IT Hardware Products and Services, IPv6, Software & Applications, Cloud IT Services, Cybersecurity, Data Center Services, Green IT, Telepresence, and Telecommunications.
Aircraft Management: GSA makes policies for managing the acquisition, use, and disposal of aircraft that the federal civilian agencies own or hire.
The GSA interacts with other federal offices through its 11 Regional Offices and a central office in Washington D.C. Its two largest offices are the Federal Acquisition Service, which procures goods and services for U.S. government agencies, and the Public Buildings Service, which provides workplaces for federal customer agencies. Other offices include the:
Disaster Recovery Purchasing allows state and local governments to purchase products and services from contracts awarded under the GSA Federal Supply Schedules to aid with recovery from a major disaster such as a terrorist or nuclear attack.
Cooperative Purchasing Program allows state and local governments to buy Informational Technology Products (IT), software, and services from contracts.
Computers for Learning Program aims to give opportunities to children by allowing schools and educational nonprofits to acquire surplus computer equipment from federal agencies.
From the Web Site of the General Services Administration
From 2002-20011, the General Services Administration (GSA) spent $164 billion on contracts to businesses and organizations, according to the federal website, USAspending.gov. In more than 7 million transactions, GSA paid for goods and services that included lease or rental of facilities ($39.7 billion), ADP and telecommunications services ($15 billion), trucks and tractor-trailers ($9.03 billion), and maintenance and repair of real property ($12.4 billion).
The five biggest spenders within GSA were the Public Buildings Service ($80.2 billion), Federal Technology Service ($47.8 billion), Federal Supply Service ($19.7 billion), Federal Acquisition Service (2.3 billion) and the Smithsonian Institution ($2.06 billion).
The five biggest GSA contracts awarded during the past decade went to:
1. SAIC Inc. $4,373,645,835
2. Northrop Grumman Corporation $3,167,872,615
3. Computer Sciences Corporation $3,103,989,523
4. General Dynamics Corporation $2,975,064,716
5. General Motors Company $2,714,041,648
Taxpayer Dollars Squandered—Johnson Steps Down
By nominating Martha Johnson to be the next Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) in 2009, President Barack Obama had hoped to raise morale at the agency, which had been rocked by the scandal-plagued tenure of Lurita Doan. Doan was asked by the Bush White House to resign in April 2008 because of serious allegations of conflicts of interest and use of federal properties for partisan purposes, which is prohibited by the Hatch Act.
Johnson was supposed to be the anti-waste alternative to Doan. Oops.
On April 2, 2012, Johnson resigned after just two years as the Administrator of the GSA, and two other agency officials were fired after the release of an inspector general’s report that bluntly detailed wasteful spending for a training conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2010 conference, thrown for the GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS), cost $822,751. The extravaganza involved expensive meals, video skits (part of a contest in which employees vied for “Commissioner for a Day”), the antic stylings of a clown, the diversions of a mind reader, and even commemorative coins for the 300 attendees.
Among the findings in the inspector general’s report:
· “To select a venue and plan the conference, GSA employees conducted two ‘scouting trips,’ five off-site planning meetings, and a ‘dry run.’”
· GSA awarded a $58,000 contract to a large business in violation of small-business set-asides.
· GSA disclosed “to the team-building contractor the agency’s maximum budget for one day of training,” and then agreed to pay the contractor that amount ($75,000).
· “Expenses included mementos for attendees, purchases of clothing for GSA employees, and tuxedo rentals.”
· The “Acting Regional Administrator instructed those planning the conference to make it ‘over the top’ and to make it bigger and better than previous conferences. Several suggestions to minimize expenses were ignored.”
The PBS had apparently been doing the same kind of shenanigans since 2007, with employees getting bonuses, gifts, and awards over and beyond GSA’s own regulatory limits. A program that began in 2001 with mouse pads and mugs as employee awards had ballooned to a giveaway that included iPods.
Amount of gifts for GSA employees escalates (by Timothy R. Smith, Washington Post)
Management Deficiency Report: General Services Administration Public Buildings Service 2010 Western Regions Conference (Office of Inspector General U.S. General Services Administration (pdf)
GSA Chief Resigns amid Reports of Excessive Spending (by Lisa Rein and Joe Davidson, Washington Post)
Photo Gallery: GSA’s $800,000 conference, in visual form (by Andrew Lapin, Government Executive)
GOP Senator Criticizes GSA over Computer Contract
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and the GSA sparred in October 2007 over a contracting controversy involving Sun Microsystems. The senator accused top-level GSA officials of interfering in contract negotiations with Sun in 2006. He said they pressured the contracting officer to sign a “potentially bad contract” and removed him from the negotiations when he refused. He said the officer who replaced him awarded the contract under terms he opposed and finally Sun had a lucrative contract.
An investigation by GSA auditors indicated that GSA officials lied about allegations of intimidation. Grassley suggests that GSA leaders made up allegations to cover up their pressuring of the contract officer, “or maybe because the new contract was signed on terms dictated by the contractor.” The GOP senator also wanted to know if the Sun case reflected deeper problems with how the government negotiates and manages contracts, leading to contracts that benefit vendors at the expense of taxpayer dollars. “I fear the Sun contract fiasco may be only the tip of the iceberg. I hope it is the exception, but many contracting officials suggest otherwise,” he said.
Grassley: Sun controversy a sign of deeper contracting problems (by Matthew Weigelt, Federal Computer Week)
Sun burns US government contract over pricing controversy (by Austin Modine, The A Register)
GSA Leader in Hot Water
The Office of Special Counsel released a letter to President George W. Bush in June 2007, saying General Services Administrator Lurita Doan, a longtime GOP supporter, engaged in “the most pernicious of political activity” banned by the 1939 Hatch Act when she asked, at a meeting of General Services Administration political appointees, how they could help Republican candidates. “I recommend that Administrator Doan be disciplined to the fullest extent for her serious violation of the Hatch Act and insensitivity to cooperating fully and honestly in the course of our investigation,” wrote Scott Bloch, special counsel for the independent investigative and prosecutorial agency.
Doan’s attorney rejected the office’s conclusions, saying Doan was only peripherally involved in the PowerPoint presentation by a senior White House political adviser at GSA headquarters on helping Republicans in coming elections.
Report: Contracting head illegally political (USA Today)
GSA Chief Calls Auditors ‘Terrorists’
The chief of the GSA tried to limit the ability of the agency’s inspector general to audit contracts for fraud or waste, and she said oversight efforts were intimidating the workforce, according to government documents and interviews. GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan, a Bush political appointee and former government contractor, proposed cutting $5 million in spending on audits and shifting some responsibility for contract reviews to small, private audit contractors.
Doan also chided Inspector General Brian D. Miller for not going along with her attempts to streamline the agency’s contracting efforts. In a private staff meeting, Doan said Miller’s effort to examine contracts had “gone too far and is eroding the health of the organization,” according to notes of the meeting written by an unidentified participant from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Doan compared Miller and his staff to terrorists. “There are two kinds of terrorism in the U.S.: the external kind; and, internally, the IGs have terrorized the Regional Administrators,” Doan said, according to the notes. Through a spokesman, Doan denied the accusations.
GSA Chief Seeks to Cut Budget For Audits (by Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr.,
GSA Official Convicted in Abramoff Scandal
Former GSA Chief of Staff David Safavian was indicted in October 2005 of making false statements and obstructing investigations into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The following year he was convicted on four of five felony counts. However, all of the convictions were overturned by the Judges Raymond Randolph, Harry Edwards, and Judith Rodgers of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 17, 2008. Safavian wasn’t home free, though. Later in 2008, he was tried again on charges stemming from obstructing a GSA inspector general’s investigation into a 2002 golf trip that was largely financed by Abramoff, and of lying on a financial disclosure form about its costs. Safavian also was convicted of making false statements to an FBI agent and a GSA ethics officer. He was acquitted of giving a false statement to a Senate committee.
Ex-Aide To Bush Found Guilty (by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Washington Post)
Big Setback for Federal Abramoff Task Force (Washington Post)
Ex-White House Aide Convicted (by Del Quentin Wilber and Derek Kravitz, Washington Post)
Security Concerns Over GSA’s Conversion to Cloud-based Email System
The GSA decided in 2010 to become the first federal agency to move to a cloud-based email system. It awarded Unisys Corp. a $6.7 million, five-year contract to develop the system. Unisys planned to involve corporate partners Google, Tempus Nova, and Acumen Solutions in the project, which raised security concerns among some observers.
The GSA decided to shift to cloud-based email in order to save money. Officials estimated the switch could save $11 per mailbox each month, or $1 million annually for every 7,500 users. Overall, the savings was expected to be 44% compared to the existing system involving GSA maintaining its own server banks to store the data. Agency leaders promised the cloud-based system would be secure, although there was some discrepancy over whether the servers maintained by Google would be located in the United States.
Those raising concerns about the project focused on the issue of information security. Guaranteeing that data would be stored on U.S.-based servers only might prove difficult, critics contended. And if it turned out the emails were housed on foreign soil, GSA could be found in violation of federal law. Another security point raised was some of GSA’s work involves purchasing for the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, making it imperative that any related emails not fall into the wrong hands.
GSA Switch To Cloud-Based E-Mail Sparks Security Debate (by Brian Kalish, NextGov)
On April 3, 2009, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Martha Johnson to be the next Administrator of the GSA. Johnson was finally confirmed nine months later after a lengthy Senate holdup. After the agency was found to have squandered taxpayer money on a lavish “training session” in early 2012, Johnson resigned her post.
Johnson had been approved by the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works in June 2009. She was also approved, unanimously, by the Senate Homeland Security Committee. But Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri) put a hold on Johnson’s confirmation as part of a battle in which he wanted a new federal office building built in Kansas City. Before her confirmation, Johnson held the dubious record of being the Obama nominee who waited the longest to be confirmed. Johnson’s installation as GSA administrator in February 7, 2010, filled the position for the first time in almost two years.
The appointment of GSA insider Johnson was expected to raise morale at the agency, which was rocked by the scandal-plagued tenure of Lurita Doan, who was asked by the Bush White House to resign in April 2008 because of serious allegations of conflicts of interest and use of federal properties for partisan purposes, which is prohibited by the Hatch Act.
Born in 1953, Johnson earned her BA in economics and history from Oberlin College in 1974 and an MBA from Yale Business School in 1979. She pursued a varied private sector career, including a two-year stint teaching economics at Tunghai University in Taiwan from 1974 to 1976, after which she relocated to New Haven, Connecticut, to pursue her MBA at Yale. Johnson’s first job after graduate school was at Cummins Engine Company in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she worked as a manager from 1979 to 1985. After six years with the same company, Johnson then held a series of five private sector positions for less than two years each, including vice president of finance and administration at Ellenzweig, Moore, a small architectural and planning firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1985 to 1987); recruiter at staffing companies Isaacson Miller (also 1985 to 1987) and the Boulware Group (1988 to 1990)—both of which specialize in helping nonprofit clients; director at management consulting firm Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group—which was a pioneer in addressing diversity in the work place, (1990 to 1992); and consultant at Ben & Jerry’s, the avowedly leftist ice cream maker for several months during 1992. It is worth noting that Johnson apparently pursued a left-leaning career path, for after 1985 all of her personnel-related work was accomplished at explicitly progressive firms.
Johnson worked on the Clinton-Gore transition team and then, when Bill Clinton took over the White House, Johnson was named Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, a position she held until October of the same year. She then served as Associate Deputy Secretary of Commerce from October 1993 to March 1996. She began her career at GSA in March 1996, when she was appointed Chief of Staff, a position she held until late 2001.
Returning to the private sector in November 2001, Johnson was named Vice President of the Council for Excellence in Government, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., initiated in the 1980s to improve the effectiveness of federal, state, and local government in the United States. In January 2003, she moved on to become Director of Touchstone Consulting Group, a senior leadership strategy support firm purchased in March 2005 by SRA International, which in turn employed Johnson as a vice president from March 2005 to November 2007. Both Touchstone and SRA performed a lot of work for the federal government, and Johnson herself did consulting work for such clients as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor.
Johnson left SRA to become Vice President of Culture at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a major government contractor in the field of information technology consulting services located in Falls Church, VA. In fact, during fiscal year 2007, CSC won nearly $4.2 billion in federal contracts, which constituted nearly 3 percent of all federal contracts awarded that year, including $146 million from the GSA, making CSC the ninth-largest recipient of GSA contracts for 2007. In late 2008, Johnson became co-leader of the Obama transition team evaluating the GSA.
Martha Johnson, GSA Head, Resigns Amid Reports of Lavish Spending (by Philip Elliott, Huffington Post)
Martha Johnson May Bring Old Era Back to GSA (by Matthew Weigelt, Federal Computer Week)
Here’s How GSA Changed Its Ways (by Curtis Sittenfeld, Fast Company)
Paul F. Prouty was appointed Acting Administrator of General Services effective January 21, 2009. Prouty has a BS and an MBA from the University of Colorado.
After joining the General Services Administration in 1971, Prouty began his career in the real estate intern program in Denver and worked to become director of the Real Estate Division in 1988. He also was the Assistant Regional Administrator for Public Buildings Service in the New England Region.
Prouty then served as assistant regional administrator for the Regional Public Buildings Service and as acting regional administrator for the GSA’s Rocky Mountain Region.
Martha N. Johnson 02/07/10 - 04/02/12
Stephen R. Leeds* 12/22/09 - 02/06/10
Paul F. Prouty* 01/21/09 - 12/21/09
James A. Williams* 08/30/08 - 01/20/09
David Bibb* 05/01/08 - 08/29/08
Lurita A. Doan 05/31/06 -04/30/08
David Bibb* 11/01/05 - 05/30/06
Stephen A. Perry 05/31/01 - 10/31/05
Thurman Davis* 12/16/00 - 05/30/01
David J. Barram 03/04/96 - 12/15/00
Roger Johnson 07/08/93 - 02/29/96
Julia Stasch* 06/13/93 - 07/07/93
Dennis Fischer* 02/04/93 - 06/13/93
Robert Jones* 01/20/93 - 02/03/93
Richard Austin 09/27/88 - 01/19/93
John Alderson* 04/01/88 - 09/26/88
Paul Trause* 03/19/88 - 03/31/88
Terence Golden 06/29/85 - 03/18/88
Dwight Ink* 03/04/85 - 06/28/85
Ray Kline* 03/01/84 - 03/03/85
Gerald Carmen 05/26/81 - 02/29/84
Ray Kline* 01/15/81 - 05/25/81
Rowland G. Freeman III 07/02/79 - 01/14/81
Paul Goulding* 04/01/79 - 06/29/79
Jay Solomon 04/30/77 - 03/31/79
Robert Griffin* 02/15/77 - 04/29/77
Jack Eckerd 11/21/75 - 02/11/77
Arthur F. Sampson 06/02/72 - 10/15/75
Rod Kreger* 01/17/72 - 06/01/72
Robert Kunzig 03/17/69 - 01/14/72
Lawson Knott, Jr. 12/01/65 - 02/28/69
Bernard Boutin 11/27/61 - 11/30/64
John Moore 02/07/61 - 11/25/61
Franklin Floete 05/03/56 - 01/20/61
Edmund Mansure 05/02/53 - 02/29/56
Russell Forbe* 02/10/53 - 05/01/53
Jess Larson 07/03/49 - 01/29/53
*denotes an Acting Administrator
Rocked by the forced resignations of its past two administrators, the General Services Administration (GSA), which serves as the federal government’s lead acquisition agency, has a new administrator in Daniel M. Tangherlini, who is promising to right the ship and run the agency ethically. His most recent predecessors, Lurita Doan and Martha Johnson, both left after scandals: Doan resigned in April 2008 because of serious allegations of conflicts of interest and use of federal properties for partisan purposes, which is prohibited by the Hatch Act, while Johnson left on April 2, 2012, after an Inspector General report found “excessive expenditures and employee misconduct” relating to a conference in Nevada being planned by a subordinate.
Born in 1968, Tangherlini grew up in Auburn, Massachusetts, where his father was a professor of Physics at nearby Holy Cross University. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2001.
After graduation, Tangherlini started his career in public service with a job at the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, where he worked from 1991 to 1997, leaving to serve briefly in the Policy Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 1998. In November 1998, Tangherlini joined the D.C. Police Department as its chief financial officer. His work with newly elected Mayor Anthony A. Williams led to a new job in June 2000, as head of the District Department of Transportation, where he remained until February 2006, when he joined the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) as interim general manager. Although expected to become Metro’s next general manager, Tangherlini instead became city administrator and deputy mayor of Washington, DC, in early 2007.
He returned to federal government service in July 2009 to serve as the Treasury Department assistants secretary for management, chief financial officer, and chief performance officer.
Before he joined the administration of D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, Tangherlini was a co-founder, with a number of others who were well-connected to District government, of EdBuild, an educational services firm that ran into controversy when the D.C. Board of Education awarded it a no-bid $57.6 million construction contract, which the D.C. City Council killed. The company has since been dissolved.
Tangherlini is married to Theresa Picillo and they have two children, Cassandra and Francesca. He donated $250 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama Wants Tangherlini, Top Fenty Aide, for Treasury Job (by Nikita Stewart, Washington Post)
D.C. Schools Considering Unusual Deal With Nonprofit (by V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post)
Fenty Fills Another Key Cabinet Position (by David Nakamura, Washington Post)
On April 3, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Martha Johnson to be the next Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA). Johnson was finally confirmed 9 months later after a lengthy Senate hold-up. She resigned on April 2, 2012, after an inspector general's report found "excessive expenditures and employee misconduct" relating to a conference in Nevada.