Doan proposes shuffling GSA's central office, policy shop

Lurita Doan, administrator of the General Services Administration, intends to move her agency’s policy shop to the congressional affairs office, according to a draft memo Federal Computer Week obtained today.

Moving the Office of Governmentwide Policy under the congressional affairs office will “weave the important role OGP plays in helping to shape government policies that work,” Doan wrote in a separate e-mail message to FCW on Nov. 30.

According to the two-page draft memo, the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs will be renamed the Office of Congressional and Governmental Affairs, and its head will report directly to Doan.

The office’s associate administrator will provide policy and management guidance to the regional offices, the memo states. Doan announced Nov. 20 that Kevin Messner is the new acting associate administrator for OGP, and he will continue to head GSA’s congressional affairs office.

The reorganization also puts four branches within the new office: the Office of the Associate Administrator for Congressional and Governmental Affairs; the Governmentwide Policy Branch; the Intergovernmental Affairs Branch; and the Congressional and Legislative Affairs Branch, according to the memo.

“OGP will not be abolished and no one will lose their job,” said Claire Dorrell, GSA’s deputy assistant administrator for communications. She said GSA could serve its customer agencies and Congress more effectively by dealing with a single office.

The memo “is not a statement of what’s wrong,” Dorrell said. “Lurita continues to find ways to make GSA the best place it can be.” The Office of Management and Budget has been notified of the proposed changes, Dorrell added.

The memo went to top GSA officials for comment, Dorrell said.

Observers say many of OGP’s issues are highly visible on Capitol Hill, and Messner is a good match for heading the new office as it tries to do a better job of connecting with lawmakers. He previously was chief of staff for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations appropriations subcommittee.

“A person with direct hands-on experience about how Congress works can mold the initiatives in a way that is good for government effectiveness as well as for the interests of the various constituencies that the Congress serves,” said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources Inc.

“I think Mrs. Doan just wants to have people she knows in these positions,” Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said about an administrator-appointed head of the policy office.

“Kevin can help to weave the important role OGP plays in helping to shape government policies that work, help OGP leverage the buying power of the entire federal government to save taxpayers’ dollars and interface with other government agencies,” Doan wrote in her e-mail message.

Messner has pushed GSA ahead on the President’s Management Agenda and helped out relations with Congress and other agencies, she added.

“Kevin’s appointment just makes a lot of sense,” Doan wrote.

Doan, an avid advocate for President Bush, is promoting his management agenda. She described the agenda as “one of the most innovative, cost-savings-conscious and efficiency-oriented policies that has the most implicit, forward-looking, 21st century focus ever initiated by a U.S. president. You might be able to tell I really believe in PMA!”

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