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GSA's Johnson Again Accused of Misusing Post


WASHINGTON — General Services Administration chief Roger W. Johnson is under investigation for the second time in his tenure over allegations that he misused his government position for personal benefit, government officials confirmed Tuesday.

The GSA's Office of Inspector General is looking into the allegations, made in a Newsday article last week, that Johnson used his executive secretary to draft memoranda to his personal business consultants and had her oversee furniture delivery and plumbing work at his Georgetown home, on government time. He is also accused of using his government driver and limousine for non-official duties.

The newspaper reported that Johnson also used his executive secretary for personal correspondence, including a request to former Vice President Walter Mondale, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, to invite one of Johnson's sons, a Nikon employee, to embassy functions. Also in question is Johnson's use of the government phone to exercise stock options at Western Digital.

Johnson, 60, former CEO of Western Digital in Irvine and the Clinton Administration's highest-ranking Republican, would not comment on the investigation. He acknowledged in interviews last week, however, that he did use government staff for some personal duties shortly after arriving in Washington. He said he was unaware that such actions, common in the private sector, were considered improper in the public sector.

This is the second time the inspector general has investigated alleged improper conduct since Johnson was appointed by President Clinton to head the GSA. The first probe was sparked by newspaper reports that he improperly billed the government for travel expenses as well as phone and overnight mail charges.

It was Johnson who requested that investigation to "clear the air." The inspector general concluded that he owed $73 and that he had billed the government for some expenses he should not have, while failing to bill for some where he should have been reimbursed. Johnson elected to pay back $1,062 to make sure that no taxpayer money had been improperly spent.

"We basically attributed it to unfamiliarity with the rules," Karen Shaffer, spokeswoman for the inspector general's office, said Tuesday. "If you've ever tried to fill out a government travel voucher, it's a new experience. There was no ill intent."

Johnson contends the latest allegations fell within the same time period, when he was unaware of the rules, and that he has been careful to separate business from personal services ever since.

Shaffer said the latest investigation is routine. "These are serious allegations. . . . We are trying to find out what happened," she said. "It should be stressed that so far, we don't have anything."

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