Emily Murphy, a former senior adviser to the General Services Administration’s acting administrator and longtime expert on government contracting and procurement policy on Capitol Hill, took over as GSA’s permanent director on Tuesday, a role that puts her in charge of millions of square feet of federal real estate.
At her swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Murphy said her priorities as administrator include an emphasis on ethical leadership, reducing duplication within GSA’s internal processes and across government, generating more competition at the contract and task order level, and increasing agency transparency.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to continue my public service by leading this important agency,” Murphy said. “GSA plays a critical role in helping other agencies focus on their vital missions through delivering value in real estate, acquisition and technology services.”
In her previous role as a senior adviser, Murphy helped oversee the merger of GSA’s Technology Transformation Service with its Federal Acquisition Office, and worked to improve how GSA facilitates technology purchases.
“The recent merger of the Technology Transformation Service with the Federal Acquisition Service will help streamline and improve our efforts to ensure agencies can buy, share and build technology through governmentwide platforms, as well as promote the use of agile, user-centered development practices,” Murphy said.
In another effort to streamline the organization and cut down on duplication, Murphy called for further adoption of shared services at GSA. She also addressed the need for IT modernization to replace legacy systems and improve the agency’s cybersecurity posture. These reforms, she said, would also mean an improvement in customer service.
“Fixing our underlying systems will reduce barriers to entry for small and innovative contractors,” Murphy said. “It will reduce barriers to access for customer agencies, allow them to devote their resources to their missions.”
Before coming to GSA, Murphy served as senior counsel for the House Committee for Small Business, where she worked with Mick Mulvaney, then chairman of the contracting and workforce subcommittee.
Mulvaney, now the director of the Office of Management and Budget, praised Murphy for doing “tremendous work” on nuts-and-bolts committee issues, and described her as the perfect fit for her new role.
“It is an extraordinarily important position when you start thinking about how much how much we spend as a government,” Mulvaney said.
The Senate confirmed Murphy as GSA administrator on Dec. 5. She will take over from Tim Horne, who has been serving as acting administrator for 11 months. The last permanent GSA administrator, Denise Turner Roth, stepped down at the end of the Obama administration. In handing over the reins to the agency, Horne said Murphy exhibits all the leadership traits that he observed are necessary for the job.
“Number one, it’s really important to care about people at GSA, to make sure they’re in an environment where they can thrive and do their job … the next thing is to understand the business of GSA, to understand how it is that GSA plays a key role in making the government more effective and more efficient. And then finally, understanding GSA’s customers, having relationships in D.C. and across the country that will allow us to continue to make the government work better,” Horne said. “That’s basically the blueprint for the GSA administrator, and Emily Murphy has all of those.”
Over the next five years, the leases on more than 100 million square feet of federal office space will expire, which Murphy said gives GSA’s Public Buildings Service an opportunity to negotiate with Congress and agencies for more favorable deals.