Martha Johnson resigns amid repeated allegations of misuse of funds

10:40 PM, Apr 3, 2012   |    comments
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GSA Management Deficiency Report:

2010 Western Regions Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - "We did not do anything wrong" is what General Services Administrator Martha Johnson said about year ago at a congressional hearing into the GSA's spending of $234,000 for a PR firm to manage the agency's mishandling of sick and dead employee reports at a regional headquarters.

This time, as the GSA's Inspector General was about issue a report on the "potential misuse of funds," Administrator Johnson simply resigned.

According to GSA spokesman Greg Mecher, before quitting, Johnson also "removed two senior leaders. Having now received the IG's report, GSA concurs with the IG's recommendations and is appalled by its findings," Mecher said in a prepared statement. "The IG spent over a year conducting this inquiry."

Mecher's statement said the allegations of misuse of funds stem from a 2010 convention in Las Vegas.

Mecher did not provide details of what happened in Las Vegas.

The last time Johnson was asked about misuse of funds was in 2011 before a Senate subcommittee hearing on a publicity campaign about illnesses and deaths at a GSA office uncovered by a TV investigation.

GSA officials had repeatedly denied they were aware of the illnesses and deaths at the GSA controlled Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Mo. prior to TV reports.

A FOIA request by KSHB-TV identified an e-mail from the regional office to top GSA officials in Washington warning of a list of employees who had died or become sick while working at the complex.

Shortly after the TV station found the internal GSA e-mail advising Washington of the death list, the agency hired the $234,000 publicity firm.

In the 2011 Senate subcommittee hearing, GSA Commissioner Robert Peck also maintained that the agency had done nothing wrong by spending the funds on the publicity firm.

"Bad start," Senator Claire McCaskill said in the 2011 hearing chastising Johnson and GSA officials during the hearing for not taking blame.

By the end of the 2011 hearing, the GSA officials acknowledged the spending could have been managed better.


The GSA did not respond to our e-mail asking whether Peck was still at the agency.

Mecher said the GSA is trying to find ways to recover funds.

Reported and written by Russ Ptacek

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