GSA administrator Murphy talks working through a crisis

This week on Leaders and Legends, host Aileen Black interviewed Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration.

This week on Leaders and Legends, host Aileen Black interviewed Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration.

“During a crisis you can’t get stuck in a paralysis trying to wait for all the information. You need to make the best decisions you can with the information you have at hand,” Murphy said about the current coronavirus crisis.

“I am extremely proud of how we’re handling COVID-19, and the role we have played, along with other federal agencies, in the relief efforts. We helped the Small Business Administration procure 3,550 laptops so they can assist small businesses with getting Paycheck Protection Program loans,” Murphy said.

“We’ve also been able to provide other agencies, states, and hospitals with PPE, including masks, sheets, cots, and cleaning supplies. This includes transferring more than 57,000 N95 Masks to [the Department of Health and Human Services] for the National Stockpile. As well, we helped transfer items off of the USNS Comfort Ship in record time, so that the vessel could be used as a hospital ship for patients in New York City, and we also helped prepare the Mercy ship that is now in California,” Murphy said.

She said she also learned while working at GSA during hurricane Katrina that leadership needs to empower their people and facilitate communications.

Murphy said she sets her team’s direction on values and lets her leaders lead. “I try to make sure everyone is heard, but in the end if I need to make a decision, I make it.”

Her efforts during the coronavirus pandemic are just a part of Murphy’s overall contributions to her agency. “As GSA Administrator, I am very proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved … First, in just over two years, GSA has produced $14.5 billion in savings and cost avoidance for our customer agencies. We’ve also done outstanding work on our Schedules consolidation, lease cost avoidance program, and in providing shared services.”

Murphy said she values what hardships and challenges offer. “Sometimes your failures teach you how to find your greatest successes.”

Murphy leads a staff of more than 11,000 GSA employees nationwide, overseeing more than 369 million square feet of property, and approximately $68 billion in annual contracts. Her previous public service includes an appointment at the SBA, and nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Committee on Small Business and Armed Services Committee. Murphy also held executive positions at a technology startup company and three years as a government contracts attorney with two top Washington, D.C. law firms.

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