D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on Friday named a retired Navy rear admiral to head the District’s Department of General Services, which presides over the city’s public building construction and renovation projects, including schools, hospitals and office buildings.
The appointment of Rear Adm. Christopher Weaver is the last of Bowser’s big agency appointments.
As director of General Services, Weaver, who served in the Navy for 34 years, will supervise a multibillion-dollar budget for an agency that has been plagued by recent allegations of poor accountability and the mismanagement of more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds.
The Office of the D.C. Auditor released a report last month that found that from 2010 through 2013, the department and D.C. Public Schools failed to provide basic financial management. D.C. Council members have also complained this year about costly add-ons to existing school modernization projects that Bowser’s office has pushed the council to approve on short notice.
“We recognize that some things have to be done differently, so we are getting the best value in delivering high-quality buildings,” Bowser (D) said Friday, after announcing Weaver’s appointment at an outdoor news conference, where she also marked the opening of a General Services project: a section of O Street NW that the city has redesigned as a “green” block that will capture storm water and runoff.
Bowser said she has asked Weaver “to stay focused on how and what needs to change in the organization, and how the organization does business.”
Weaver, who retired from the Navy eight years ago to work as a consultant on naval projects, acknowledged Friday that the appointment came suddenly.
“Frankly, I didn’t know about this job three weeks ago,” he told The Washington Post. Rather, he said, a conversation with friends who had connections in the mayor’s office snowballed into meetings with the mayor and led to a hiring decision.
Following Friday’s news conference, the surprise of Weaver’s appointment was evident, as top Bowser administration officials — including agency directors, the Department of General Services’ legal counsel and a Bowser spokeswoman — lined up to introduce themselves to the new director.
Pressed by a reporter about his credentials, Weaver acknowledged that he has no experience in municipal government but said that he believes he is up to the job.
“At one point I was responsible for about 70 bases for the Navy worldwide,” Weaver said, adding that naval bases contain schools, child development centers and other structures. “A naval base is very much like a city with a fence around it.”