Federal Coach

By Tom Fox, VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service

Blog archive

Federal Coach: Talking leadership with the new GSA administrator

(Fox's Federal Coach column was originally published on The Washington Post On Leadership site.)

Denise Turner Roth, the administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), was named to the role just this past August—but she has been in public service for more than 18 years. During that time, she's worked for members of Congress, the District of Columbia government and as city manager for Greensboro, N.C., where she reorganized departments and divisions to promote efficiency and improve service delivery. In an interview, Roth spoke about her leadership approach and the evolving role of GSA.

What is your approach to managing and leading?

A. The key for me has been to identify and articulate our mission with our senior leadership, to get buy-in, to engage with our stakeholders in terms of how we impact them and what they need from us, and to meet with staff to communicate our vision. My management style is very collaborative. I think it’s important that everyone knows what the needs and the goals are, and they have to be held accountable.

How is the GSA changing?

We are becoming a more strategic partner with government agencies and departments. We still are the managers of real estate, acquisition and technology services. But as a strategic partner, our job also is understanding what our partners need, being aware of best practices in the private sector that allow us to create the best, most efficient work environments, and helping them be more informed in their acquisition activities.

Part of our job involves thinking about where they are, how they are situated and developing new strategies. For many of the agencies, that is about controlling real estate and acquisition costs, being efficient and laying a foundation for long-term success.

How do you spend your time each day?

At GSA, we are focused on operational excellence, being a good partner to the agencies, making it easier for suppliers to work with the government and getting the best value out of our real estate decisions. So I spend time every day ensuring that we are making progress on these issues and understanding what’s next.

Why should young people consider government service?

I would absolutely encourage young people to look at public service. There are tremendous things happening in the federal government that directly translate to what one will see in the private sector. Young people thinking about their career should consider the federal government, whether their occupation is accounting, engineering, communications or something else.

How do you decompress?

I have a regular exercise regimen and that is really important. And when I ride the Metro to and from work, I put in my earphones, listen to music and relax.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I have a 6-year-old son and he has a lot of energy and is really exciting. When I’m not working, my attention is focused on him.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

My dad was an electrical engineer and I actually had an early Commodore 64. I used to code my own video games.

Posted by Tom Fox, VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service on Mar 15, 2016 at 12:39 PM

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
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