When Gerald P. Carmen took over the General Services Administration in 1981, one of the first things he did was to promote three of the agency's most celebrated whistle blowers to top jobs. Two w0091 ----- r a BC-06/21/83-GSA 06-21 0001 INSIDE: THE GSA
When Gerald P. Carmen took over the General Services Administration in 1981, one of the first things he did was to promote three of the agency's most celebrated whistle blowers to top jobs. Two of the appointments have worked out well in the eyes of key agency officials, but the third has produced some headaches.
Former auditor Howard Davia has turned out to be an aggressive regional administrator in Chicago, and William A. Clinkscales Jr., former deputy director of security oversight, is considered to be "effective" as head of GSA's oversight office. But Bertrand G. Berube has been bounced around to three jobs, drawing generally poor reviews from many of his colleagues and supervisors.
Berube, a 20-year agency veteran, had been director of acquisition policy when he ran afoul of President Carter's GSA chiefs for speaking out too often. Carmen ignored the advice of some advisers and put the engineer in charge of running the National Capitol Region's 6,543-person staff. But after a year of listening to Berube's complaints about agency rules, Carmen detailed him to a policy-making job as assistant commissioner of public buildings.
Berube regarded the shift as a demotion since he had only 55 employes in the new post. He responded with a seven-page memorandum that outlined dozens of problems, many of them, he said, caused by the "progressive dismantling" of GSA by Carmen and his appointees.
The memo suggested something should be done about government buildings that are "unsafe for human occupancy" and fail to meet the standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; that telephone equipment should be purchased competitively, and that the 76 percent operating subsidy for a White House staff dining room was too much. The facility should be managed more efficiently, he said, or shut down.
Carmen aired Berube's memo at an unusual press conference and pledged that the problems would be probed. Now, Harold E. Lewis, deputy assistant inspector general for audits, said that the review showed several areas ripe for review, including the underbilling of the White House for cleaning and other services and a planned move of the Federal Communications Commission from the District to Alexandria that Berube says cost taxpayers $10.6 million when it was canceled. A separate review by Clinkscales' office also suggested that Berube's recommendations regarding the telephone procurements and the White House mess be explored further.
Carmen detailed Berube to the operations division and asked him to work toward fixing some of the problems he had noted.
"How?" Berube asks. "They give me a job but no staff; they give me duties but no responsibilities."
In a June 14 memo, Berube told Deputy Administrator Ray Kline that he couldn't do an effective job because superiors have approved work on only one of the 43 problems listed in his May memo and he was given only a single inexperienced staffer, not four experienced professionals, to do the job.
Berube added that "the majority of the solutions that I proposed to the problems I found were resisted or opposed . . . . These actions coupled with the impossible situation that is outlined lead me to believe that there is no real interest in the office of operations to have me develop the solutions I proposed . . . . "
His latest boss, associate administrator Steven L. Hammer, said, "Berube has an excellent knack for picking out problems, but a terrible record of coming up with solutions. He has to live within the constraints of available resources."
Berube responds: "I'm not saying anything different now than two years ago. This has nothing to do with Carmen--whom I like personally--or with the Reagan administration. It's a problem of bureaucracies. I think Carmen has surrounded himself with some people who have not given him the best advice."