Emily Webster Murphy is an American attorney and government official who is the Administrator of the General Services Administration . GSA oversees the federal civilian workforce, federal government properties, and federal contracts.
When Joe Biden was generally acknowledged on November 7, 2020 to have won the 2020 United States presidential election, Murphy refused to sign a letter allowing Biden's transition team to access federal agencies and transition funds; this came as Trump refused to acknowledge Biden's victory.
Early life and education Murphy was born in 1973 and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She has a brother and a sister. Her father James J. Murphy Jr. was chairman of Murphy Company Mechanical Contractors and Engineers, and her mother, Mimi Murphy , was an attorney. Murphy attended Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, from which she graduated in 1991. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in 1995 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2001.
Early career After graduating from Smith, Murphy moved to Washington, D.C., beginning her career at the Republican National Committee . She worked for the RNC as Assistant to the Director of Administration from October 1995 to January 1997. She then worked as a staff member for Jim Talent while he served as Chair of the House Committee on Small Business from January 1997 to July 1998, before leaving to pursue a law degree.
Murphy previously served as counsel at the United States House Committee on Armed Services, where she specialized in acquisition policy and reform. She has also held roles at the Small Business Administration and at GSA, where she served as the agency's Chief Acquisition Officer. Murphy served under three chairmen of the United States House Committee on Small Business. Her private sector experience includes five years in executive positions at a technology startup company engaged in federal contracting and three years as a government contracts attorney with two D.C. law firms.
General Services Administration leadership Unbalanced scales.svg The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. After President Trump took office in January 2017, Murphy was appointed to the position of senior advisor to acting General Services Administration administrator Timothy Horne. On September 2, 2017, Trump nominated Murphy to the post of GSA administrator. The Senate confirmed Murphy's appointment by unanimous consent on December 5, 2017.
In March 2018, an Inspector General's report found that Murphy had a policy of permitting alcohol consumption on agency property.
In 2018, Murphy became involved in a dispute surrounding a decision to cancel plans to relocate the J. Edgar Hoover Building out of Washington D.C., instead planning to do a more expensive rebuild at the existing location. House Democrats alleged that this decision was influenced by Trump's desire to prevent a rival hotel being built on Pennsylvania Avenue. Murphy faced questions at a 2018 congressional hearing regarding the White House's involvement in this decision, where she claimed that Trump was not involved in the decision and instead the direction was received from the FBI. A GSA Inspector General report published in August 2018 revealed Murphy's testimony 'left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials in the decision-making process about the project'; Murphy had failed to disclose her meeting with the president on two occasions regarding the project, and one with his Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Inspector general report regarding alcohol and GSA headquarters rooftop In August 2019, a report by the GSA inspector general, examining an episode in 2017, was released under a Freedom of Information Act request. The report examined an episode in which a GSA associate administrator admitted to having sex with a White House staffer on the GSA headquarters rooftop after drinking alcohol in a suite area. Murphy reportedly told investigators in February 2018 'that she 'often permits' her immediate staffers to drink alcohol in the office after business hours on Fridays but said she was 'very careful about such approvals.'
Refusal to begin presidential transition See also: Presidential transition of Joe Biden and Attempt to dispute the apparent results of the 2020 United States Presidential Election The GSA administrator officially determines when an incoming presidential administration can begin to access federal agencies and transition funds. After November 7, 2020, when Joe Biden became generally acknowledged as president-elect following the 2020 election, Murphy refused to sign a letter allowing Biden's transition team to begin work to facilitate an orderly transition of power. By refusing to allow the transition to proceed, she prevented the incoming administration from obtaining office space, performing background checks on prospective Cabinet nominees, and accessing classified information. Murphy's withholding of the letter also blocked Biden's transition team from accessing several million dollars in federal transition funds for salaries and other costs, establishing government email addresses, and working with the Office of Government Ethics on required financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest forms for incoming nominees.
Before the 2020 election, Murphy had reportedly spoken with David Barram, who was President George W. Bush's GSA administrator during the 2000 election, about the appropriate steps to take during a possible transition of power. On November 10, four former Secretaries of Homeland Security—Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano, and Jeh Johnson—called upon Murphy to initiate the transition. On November 19, the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform formally requested that Murphy brief Congress 'on ongoing refusal to grant the Biden-Harris Transition Team access to critical services and facilities'. The next day, House Democrats sent Murphy a letter reading, 'Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration's ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation's dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security.' The letter asked for a personal briefing on the situation by November 23, 2020.