We’ve been following the saga forever, but the vote finally happened Thursday afternoon — we had it live as it happened on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris — the Senate first voted to close debate on the Johnson nomination … and then proceeded to confirm Martha N. Johnson as the new administrator of the General Services Administration.
We hear that the swearing in ceremony will take place Tuesday, February 9th at 2p at GSA headquarters. (I’m working on official confirmation, but… this is the word at the moment.)
One curious note: When the vote was first taken, it was 94-2 — four senators (Coburn, Benett, Isaskson and Hutchinson) did not vote — and two senators, Jim Bunning and Jeff Sessions, voted against. But the officially tally as posted by the Senate’s Web site shows a 96-0 vote. I’m not sure how that works, exactly. And, ironically, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) — the senator who had held up Johnson’s vote — voted to confirm Johnson. But that came after an impassioned floor speech.
“My priority as Administrator will be to put GSA’s expertise to work developing and executing policies and products that will create a greener, more efficient, more cost-effective, more open, and more responsible government,” Johnson added. “By building on GSA’s success thus far, we will provide a streamlined platform for our customer agencies to implement innovative technologies and solutions to decrease government operating costs and increase efficiencies in government service delivery.”
We’ve got a huge backlog of folks who are unanimously viewed as well qualified, nobody has a specific objection to them, but end up having a hold on them because of some completely unrelated piece of business. That’s an example … of the kind of stuff that Americans just don’t understand.
Bond says the people he is protecting are the feds in Kansas City (0:27):
Bond: Johnson’s qualifications are not in doubt (0:12)
WASHINGTON—Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday welcomed the confirmation of Martha Johnson to be General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator. Johnson, who was unanimously approved by the Committee on June 8, 2009, was confirmed by a vote of 94-2. Her confirmation had been blocked for six months for reasons unrelated to her qualifications.
“I am delighted the Senate has finally voted to confirm Ms. Johnson, an extremely qualified and experienced nominee, so she can begin her important work on behalf of the American people,” Lieberman said. “The hold that had been placed on her for six months had nothing to do with her qualifications or personal history. Her nomination received the unanimous support of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June and she has overwhelming bipartisan support in the full Senate.
“We cannot continue the practice of holding nominees ‘hostage’ for parochial reasons unrelated to a nominee’s ability to do the job they’ve been they’ve been nominated for. These kinds of things anger the public and damage the Senate as an institution.
“Given her experience as a former GSA Chief of Staff, Ms. Johnson knows the agency inside and out and is prepared to hit the ground running. I am grateful that GSA will now have the stable leadership it needs.”
Collins said: “Martha Johnson has significant experience in both the private sector and the federal government. She served previously as GSA’s Chief of Staff, helping to lead that agency at a time of substantial change. Today, the GSA faces even greater challenges and demands than when Ms. Johnson served there more than eight years ago. I am confidence she will provide much-needed leadership to this agency that provides many important procurement services to the federal government.”
Yesterday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Bob Woods, the president of TopSide Consulting and the former commissioner of GSA’s then Federal Technology Service. He noted that one of the challenges Johnson faces is the pent up anticipation around her nomination — there is so much hope for her, if she doesn’t walk on water, people will end up being disappointed.
I’m sure she will be getting a lot of advice in the coming days, weeks, months… and years.