Twitter users have mixed view of GSA scandal, study shows

Thousands of Twitter users angry about the General Services Administration’s recent scandal are more likely to blame big government—and President Barack Obama—than the GSA alone, according to a new analysis.

Crimson Hexagon, a data analytics firm, said it analyzed more than 7,500 tweets on Twitter from April 1 to April 25 expressing opinions about the recent reports of lavish conference spending by the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned and several other GSA executives were fired or put on leave as the agency's Inspector General released a report on the case.

Users on Twitter strongly reacted to the scandal, but within weeks there were more nuanced views. Overall, of the tweets reviewed in the study, 44 percent were “negative” about the GSA scandal, 33 percent were “neutral” and a surprising 22 percent were “positive” in the sense that they were supportive of steps to fix the situation, Crimson Hexagon said in its recent report.

The largest group of negative tweets—about 13 percent—suggested the scandal was primarily Obama’s responsibility. Another 11 percent said “government is wasteful” and 6 percent said the GSA scandal showed why government spending should be cut. Twelve percent had other negative comments.

On the other hand, a significant portion of the tweets were focused on steps to fix the problems, which the survey said was a “positive” view.

“Amidst the outcry, 22 percent of the conversation, while not supportive of the administrators’ actions, is supportive of steps that could be taken,” the study said.

Eight percent of the tweets claimed they wanted restitution of funds that had been wasted.

Another 8 percent of the tweets suggested that ousting the executives involved would help mitigate the effects of the scandal.

Six percent of the tweets came to the defense of other government workers, assuming the stance that “the actions of the few, do not reflect the many.”

The neutral conversations focused primarily on general news about GSA, the study said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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