The General Services Administration is trying to remake its real estate unit following a convention scandal that brought down the agency’s top administrator, and it has named a Defense Department official who oversaw the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process to right the ship.
On Tuesday the GSA named Dorothy Robyn, who served as the Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary for installations and environment for the past three years, as new commissioner of the Public Buildings Service, the unit that oversees the federal government’s real estate portfolio.
Dan Tangherlini , acting administrator of the GSA, issued a memo to agency employes announcing the selection Tuesday. Tangherlini also said that he would abolish the Public Buildings Service board of directors, a little-known oversight unit.
At the Pentagon, Robyn (pronounced row-bine) closed out the most recent round of the controversial BRAC process, which began in 2005 and included major personnel shifts in the Washington region including the relocation of Walter Reed Army Medical Center activities, the expansion of the Mark Center in Alexandria and the transformation of Fort Meade.
She also oversaw a massive collection of bases and properties worldwide for the Defense Department, including more than 29 million acres of land, 300,000 buildings and 2.2 billion square feet of building space, according to GSA.
Robyn is Tangherlini’s first hire of a senior official since he took over for Martha Johnson in April following a $835,000 Las Vegas meeting that prompted her resignation and the ouster of previous PBS commissioner Robert A. Peck.
Tangherlini said Robyn’s work in recent years often required coordinating with the GSA on major real estate decisions.
“During this time, Dorothy has gained valuable experience working with GSA to identify ways that this agency and DOD can encourage greater innovation and cost efficiency from constructions firms and make federal buildings more energy efficient and sustainable,” he wrote to employees.
He said he was doing away with the unit’s board of directors “to ensure that she has the appropriate authority she needs to lead PBS.”
“As we move forward, I believe that this change is essential if PBS, and the entire GSA, is to give the American people the effective, efficient service that they deserve,” he said.
Tangherlini quickly cut travel and meeting expenses when he took over, at a projected savings of $11 million between April and August. The GSA also plans to review newspaper and magazine subscriptions and expenditures to conduct paper-based satisfaction surveys in a search for further savings.
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