GSA’s Martha Johnson on Green IT, Telework

86432854After her keynote address at FOSE 2010, Martha Johnson, administrator of the General Services Administration, spoke with reporters on green IT and telework, among other topics.

When asked about what kind of internal programs or structures she has to ensure GSA buys green, Johnson said she believes there is no way to green the supply chain if people are not practicing green in their everyday lives.

“I believe very much that the workplace itself, our workplace, is something that we need to work on as employees, both for our own sort of daily practicing but as the model,” Johnson said. “It’s very hard to–we have to practice what we preach. And, I suspect that there are a lot of ideas in GSA about how to do this.”

Speaking about her previous experience at Computer Sciences Corp, where she was vice president of culture, Johnson said using some of the collective-intelligence tools would be a good way to find ideas and solutions on going green.

“We literally asked thousands of people across CSC how you go about getting ‘greener,’ and a lot of people have ideas,” Johnson said. “So, I think we can use some of these converging techniques to narrow in on some ways at which everybody can come to an agreement. And, the sheer act of doing it brings people together who are committed to it. I will see using those tools as one of the techniques I would like to use to motivate employees.”

During the historic 2010 snowstorms that paralyzed the Washington, D.C. metro area for days, GSA was among the agencies that allowed its workers to telework. Touching on the topic of the benefits of working remotely, Johnson said she believes there is no reason to have “a cultural inspection where people are watching people.”

“I am personally passionate about this notion that work is what you do, not where you do it,” Johnson said. ” I believe we are moving away from the industrial model where we watch workers do work. That is waste as a system. … So, there is a fundamental shift in culture that everyone needs to sort of understand. And that is something that is core to this for me.

Comparing telework to “like the first toe in the water,” Johnson said the GSA has tried it and now knows a lot from it.

“There’s a lot of understanding that the world has changed,” Johnson said. “The private sector is changing on this. They’re understanding it is costly to have centralized workplaces for people who are not necessarily there.”

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