The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Former GSA chief in charge during conference scandal pens new book

Martha Johnson, who was forced to resign abruptly as head of the General Services Administration in 2011 amid revelations of a scandal on her watch over excesses at a Las Vegas training conference, has penned a book about leadership in government and the lessons she learned at the helm of the agency.

The book, out last week from Dudley Court Press,  is titled “On My Watch: Leadership, Innovation, and Personal Resilience.”

In it, Johnson is passionate about creative and effective management and how to change the culture of a government organization.

In an interview with GovLoop, Johnson described a government culture of “oversight and inspection” that is dictated by a civil service system “which is about a culture of rights.”

“When that bumps into what is the business culture of performance, which is also important to the government, you’ve got a mash-up there that a leader has to wade through,” she said.

She told GovLoop that GSA “has always struggled because it is about a dozen or so business lines” from purchasing to government real estate. It was hard to find a coherent vision for the agency.

Johnson now works as a consultant on leadership challenges.