Prouty fits as acting GSA administrator, experts say

Paul Prouty's 38 years of experience dealing with Public Building Service fits with a greater emphasis on energy-efficient buildings.

The General Services Administration’s Public Building Service (PBS) may get more attention while President Barack Obama is in office, particularly because Obama and Congress want more energy-efficient federal buildings, experts said Jan. 23.

Obama administration officials’ decision to raise Paul Prouty to acting GSA administrator fits as energy efficiency and the proposed economic recovery legislation will likely turn attention to federal infrastructure projects, they said.

“It makes sense to go to the part of GSA that has responsibility" already for making federal buildings more efficient, said Hope Lane, partner with Aronson and Co.’s Government Contracts Consulting Group.

Prouty has in-depth knowledge of how GSA, often referred to as the government’s landlord, runs its operations, said Sandy Bates, former commissioner of GSA’s Federal Technology Service and now an executive consultant at Topside Consulting.

Before getting his new job, Prouty was GSA’s assistant regional administrator for the PBS in the Rocky Mountain Region. He joined GSA in 1971, beginning his career in the real estate intern program and in 1988 became director of the region’s real estate division. In 1995, Prouty became the assistant regional administrator for PBS in GSA’s New England Region. He returned to the Rocky Mountain Region as the assistant regional administrator in 1997.

The region manages 615 government-owned and -leased buildings that serve approximately 50,000 federal employees with office space and supplies. The region also has six buildings that meet energy and environmental standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit trade organization. For example, a 6-acre solar park on the Denver Federal Center campus now produces 10 percent of the peak electricity need by the 90 buildings on the campus. Similar certifications for two more buildings in the region are pending.

The Prouty decision puts a stamp on the direction Obama wants GSA to take, Lane said. “This is not a subtle shift.”

GSA now is adjusting its attention to infrastructure and away from information technology and its $16 billion Schedule 70 contract, she said.

The economic recovery legislation is expected to include money to improve federal buildings. One expert said the legislation working its way through Congress may include as much as $6 billion for renovations. Having been in charge of these projects, Prouty was an obvious choice for the position, some experts agreed.

Choosing a PBS career employee as acting administrator isn't unique. PBS was the focus of GSA until the 1990s, Bates said. Before the 1990s, “when people thought of GSA, they thought of the Public Building Service.”

Unlike GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, PBS involves politics, as appropriated dollars are funneled directly into congressional districts and spent locally, she said. Members of Congress and their constituents are more interested in federal buildings than deciding whether agencies need another governmentwide IT contract, she added.

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