DorobekInsider: Rumoring around the halls of GSA — playing GSA musical chairs

Thursday - 12/17/2009, 1:14pm EST

There is a lot of buzz surrounding the General Services Administration, so… I’m saying this up front — this is all unconfirmed, but… it is the buzz. (That caveat allows me to say ‘as theDorobekInsider reported’ if it is true… but gives me cover if it isn’t… and things are changing so quickly.)

* The Johnson nomination: We’re hearing that the nomination of Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Services Administration may just be brought to a cloture vote. (For those who don’t know — I had to look it up — is the process of breaking a filibuster.) And for those who haven’t been following it as closely, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has a hold on the Johnson nomination ostensibly about the development of a federal facility in Kansas City. But we hear that development is really just a side show for what has become a somewhat bitter political battle between Bond and friends and GSA and the administration. We hear that GSA has numbers that shows the Bond development proposal is a bad deal for the government. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that information. But I also hear that GSA has acted somewhat unartfully in its dealings with Bond. Regardless, unlike some senators who are very open and transparent when they put a hold on a nomination, Bond and his staff have not. It seems unfair and to disregard important work that GSA is trying to accomplish. Anyway, the talk on Capitol Hill is that Johnson’s name is among a list of people that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking to bring to a vote. There had been some talk of a recess nomination — or even another administration post for Johnson. UPDATE: We’re hearing that any action on Capitol Hill might not come until January.

* Who will be acting in the meantime?: There are rampant rumors that Paul Prouty, the current acting administrator who has made no secret of his desire to return to his home in Denver — he has teenage children, one of whom will be heading off to college very soon and DadProuty would like to spend time with his kids and family. But we also hear that there is a time period — 270 days — after which nominees have to start paying local taxes. I haven’t been able to find information on it, but… Prouty has to be approaching that timetable. Prouty tells me: “Everyone knows I’m eager to go home; however, nothing to report.”

* Acting Administrator Leeds?: Who might replace Prouty? Many pings that it might be Stephen Leeds, who in August took the post as Senior Counselor to the GSA Administrator. (The link to his bio page from GSA’s leadership Web site wasn’t working for me.) One person described Leeds as a “placeholder,” but it raises some concern given that Leeds has been with GSA for all of four months. While people are impressed by him personally, it is a difficult job to step into at best… and nobody knows how long they may just serve in that post. Just askProuty.

* Brasseux to retire — by the end of the year: That is what people are saying — GSA deputy administrator Barnaby (Barney) L. Brasseux, who has been serving in that post since September 2008. We hear that administration officials had offered him the opportunity to return to be deputy commissioner at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, a post that will be vacated by Tyree Varnado starting in January, but Brasseux has decided to retire. (Hear our delightful exit interview with Varnado from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris here.)

* So who becomes GSA’s deputy administrator? We’re hearing Susan Brita, who is a staff director on Capitol Hill — we’re hearing an announcement could come early next year. Apparently Brita has been strongly pushed by Rep. Elenore Holmes Norton (D-DC).

* GSA FAS deputy — no names floating: With Varnado retiring, there is no name yet for that key post. There is some concern amongst GSA watchers that there is a lot of procurement knowledge that is either retiring — or planning on retiring — leaving potential gaps in key positions.

Things are evolving very quickly, so… we’re trying to keep an eye on all of it.

As we say in radio… stay tuned.