General services administration sign in front of government building

Martha Johnson and the General Services Administration

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Yale School of Management
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Over its six-decade history, the General Services Administration has been described as a broker, agent, landlord, quartermaster, purchasing agent, Big Box store, clearinghouse, connector, property manager, and “a bureaucracy designed to do business with other bureaucracies.” It has been described also as a political tool, a breeding ground for corruption, and one of the most wasteful agencies in government. News reports regularly use terms like “chronically troubled agency” to describe the GSA. In fact, the agency has faced a series of leadership and management scandals over the years.

Appointed to lead the GSA in 2010, Martha Johnson brought decades of management experience to the GSA. A graduate of the Yale School of Management (‘79), Johnson held executive positions in government (the Commerce Department and the GSA), consulting (SRA International), in-house consulting (Ben & Jerry’s), manufacturing (the Cummins Engine Company), and business services (Computer Sciences Corporation). She brought a new vision of government, based on trust, to the General Services Administration. But then in 2011, an "over the top" conference at a Las Vegas resort forced her to resign. What remains of Johnson's vision?

Published Date: 10/09/2014

Suggested Citation: Charles Euchner, "Martha Johnson and the General Services Administration," Yale SOM Case 14-016, September 10, 2014.

Keywords: Corruption, Crisis, United States, Women in Leadership