5 Things to Know About New GSA Head Robin Carnahan


On June 23, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Missouri secretary of state Robin Carnahan to lead the General Services Administration, a 12,000-person agency that manages the federal government’s real estate, vehicles, IT and other resources that maintain the functions of the federal government. 

“GSA is at the heart of creating a government that effectively delivers for the people and taxpayers, and I am committed to doing all I can to support that important mission,” Carnahan said upon accepting her role. 

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The GSA manages approximately $500 billion in federal property and works with an annual budget of around $21 billion. It also oversees $66 billion in federal procurement contracts annually.

Here are five things to know about the GSA’s new leader:

  1. From 2016-2020, Carnahan founded and led the state and local government practice at 18F, a digital services agency within the GSA that collaborates across the federal government to help build and buy technology.
  1. Carnahan served as Missouri’s secretary of state from 2005 to 2013, but had an unsuccessful run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. During her time in the secretary of state position, Carnahan modernized online services for hundreds of thousands of customers related to both elections and securities.
  1. Politics are in Carnahan’s blood. She is the daughter of two-term Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2000; and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, who became the first woman to represent Missouri in the Senate, appointed when her husband was posthumously elected. Plus, Robin’s brother, Russ Carnahan, served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  1. In 2020, she co-founded the State Software Collaborative as a fellow at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, along with Waldo Jaquith. The program helped states replace legacy IT systems with modern technology.
  1. Carnahan has pledged to harness the GSA’s resources to assist state governments, noting the challenges faced by state officials over the past year as aging unemployment compensation systems were overwhelmed by pandemic-related claims.