In March 1980, President Ronald Reagan asked Jerry Carmen to lead the General Services Administration (the GSA).
At the time the GSA was the Federal Government’s most corrupt and wasteful agency.
Jerry’s mission, direct from President Reagan, was to clean-up the GSA or shut it down.
Three years later the GSA had dropped from 36,000 employees to 12,000, thanks to the most thorough hiring freeze instituted under Reagan.
The GSA’s duplicative offices and obsolete operations were gone.
In its place was the best run Federal Agency in 1984.
Jerry saved tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
This is how bad it got.
An employee cabal orchestrated an insider contract scam to renovate the 8th Floor Utility Rooms at the GSA Headquarters Building.
It wasn’t until they requested a contract extension that people remembered the GSA Headquarters only had seven floors.
Jerry created a secure “war room” where we placed the entire GSA organization on its walls.
We then rolled plastic sheets over the personnel charts. Using grease pencils, we “x-ed” out offices and operations that were flagged by Inspector General Reports and Whistle Blowers, marking them for extinction.
Once personnel actions were recorded, we erased the notations.
When Leftist Congresswoman, Pat Schroeder, demanded our work files we were able to honestly say there were none.
Jerry was “laser focused” on his mission.
A Union official met with Jerry to protest the hiring freeze.
A few minutes into the meeting, Jerry picked up the bowl of Jelly Belly candy on his desk and began picking out and eating the red ones.
The Union official noticed this and commented, “You really like those red ones. What makes them so special?”
Jerry answered, “The meeting is over when the red ones are gone”.
Jerry’s main achievement was creating a business-based culture grounded in honesty and integrity.
The Director of the Springfield Supply Depot called Jerry declaring that he needed to buy 12 additional forklifts to meet the new work deadlines.
Jerry immediately drove himself to the Depot. He rushed past the guards and raced through the warehouse counting twenty idle forklifts.
The Director was immediately removed from his position and fired within the week.
Jerry embodied the commitment to excellence, the courage of convictions, and the bravery of a true leader.
Jerry’s accomplishments, and how he accomplished them, will inspire generations to come.