DorobekINSIDER: GSA’s Johnson speaks to employees – here is what she said

Friday - 2/19/2010, 2:00am EST

Martha Johnson is finally the GSA Administrator — both technically telework style as a result of snowpoclypse, but then this week more formally at GSA headquarters auditorium. And Johnson spoke to GSAers for the first time.

“Before I begin formal remarks, I want to say that this is not MY day. This is GSA’s day. And to that end, I want us all to know how GSA is represented in this room,” she said.

Martha Johnson sworn in (Photo: GSA)

You can read her full speech here, but… she laid out three big areas:

  • The sustainability of our environment.
  • Second is transparency.
  • Taking our performance to the next level.

In the 1990s, the Clinger Cohen Act gave us a gift. It pushed GSA out of being the mandated company store for the government. At the time, it was a shock. Many of you probably remember that over 5,000 people took the buy-out in the wake of our tremendous realignment. But it has helped us grow up and made it necessary for GSA to play in the competitive arena and the real market. Our challenge now is to WIN in that market. Why should other agencies divert resources from their core missions in order to set up procurement and contracting staffs? I was asked exactly that question in my Senate hearings. Why indeed! We have tremendous skill, this is our core capacity – delivering solutions – and we should be hands down the best.

Some highlights of her speech:

It is a great honor to have been asked to serve GSA as your Administrator by President Barack Obama. Joining his administration gives me great pride. His leadership, tone, and agenda inspire and teach me. As I step into the role, I hope to do the job effectively and from the bottom of my heart. I thank the president for this opportunity.

I would also like to take this moment to thank Paul Prouty, who has served you as the GSA Administrator for the last year. Paul has brought energy and humor to the office. He has been a voice for the regional perspective. He has tried new things and stirred the pot. I salute his courage and his service. Thank you, Paul.

In the early 1990’s a simple notion was floated by two guys, Fred and Mike. Actually, Fred Treacy and Mike Wiersema. They explained that great organizations are great because they excel at one of three things: The first is innovation. Take Google or Apple as archetypes. Both are wildly and consistently innovative. They take risks. They are curious. They like change. And they’ve built their business models and reputations on that.

The second is customer intimacy – being astonishingly in tune with the customer – which brings to mind great service companies like Nordstrom.

And the third is operational excellence, which is all about getting results, getting problems solved, and getting it done. Think Fed Ex. Think Wal-Mart.

Over the last 15 years, their theory has morphed. It is now argued that, frankly, being good at one of these three isn’t quite enough. A great organization must be all three: Innovative. Intimate with customers. Operationally excellent.

So, where does that put GSA?

For six decades we have been a huge operational machine, in the business of supplying to and housing the federal government. There isn’t a corner of the government that we haven’t touched – from serving the war fighter in Afghanistan, equipping the scientists measuring climate change, assuring that judges in courthouses have a venue that enhances justice, supporting our former President, housing the members of Congress in their home districts, and supplying state and local governments in times of disaster. The Executive, the legislative, the judicial, state, and local.

Read her full speech here.