Sixteen months after being named to the post, Dorothy Robyn is leaving as head of the Public Buildings Service for the General Services Administration, a job in which she inked a deal with Donald Trump for a luxury hotel and led the search for a new FBI headquarters.
Her replacement is expected to be Norman Dong, who has been serving as acting controller at the Office of Management and Budget, Robyn said.
Robyn came from the Defense Department in September of 2012 to help right the ship after a scandal over convention-related expenses brought down the GSA’s previous leadership. She oversaw public buildings during a time of tightening budgets, prompting her to press agencies to occupy less space and forgo real estate that they did not need.
She and GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini teamed to take better advantage of under-performing government buildings, completing a deal to lease the Old Post Office Pavilion to Trump’s real estate firm and selling the West Heating Plant in Georgetown to a developer affiliated with the Four Seasons.
In an interview she said she was frustrated at the resistance of Congress to invest in cost-saving infrastructure improvements, as well as the accounting policies “ that make it difficult for us to follow best practices in the private sector.”
Rather than take a new job immediately ,Robyn said she would take time off to write about some of the government inefficiencies that she said were strangling the country’s infrastructure improvements and failing to reduce energy usage.
“I’m going to take a few months and spend it writing. I’m a policy wonk. I’ve been a part of some tremendous work both here at GSA and at DOD and I want to go write about that and also write about the impediments to GSA and DOD doing it better,” she said.
“It’s been a joy to be part of the work, but I’ve been frustrated by the impediments,” she added.
Robyn has been heading the GSA’s efforts to complete complex property swaps to enable the construction of a new headquarters for the FBI and the overhaul of a federal office enclave south of the National Mall, dubbed Federal Triangle South.
She came to the GSA after overseeing the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process for the Pentagon. She served as the Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary for installations and environment for three years.
“I cannot thank Dorothy enough for her contributions to GSA,” Tangherlini said in a statement. “Since Dorothy joined us, she has worked tirelessly to manage the more than 9,000 assets we hold in trust on behalf of the American people. Her commitment has not only helped us maintain those facilities but also enabled GSA to increase our capital investments, improve our business practices, and enhance the energy efficiency of our entire portfolio. ”
Dong follows in Tangherlini’s footsteps in leaving OMB for GSA. He and Tangherlini are also both former city administrators for the District of Columbia, with Dong serving under former mayor Anthony Williams and Tangherlini serving under Adrian Fenty.
Robyn said her last day would likely be in March.
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