GSA renames regional administrators as ‘regional commissioners’ — the first step to a broader reorg?

Monday - 3/16/2009, 3:08pm EDT

Acting Administrator Paul Prouty sent out a memo last week to GSA offices announcing that he is changing titles for assistant regional administrators and deputy assistant regional administrators. Here is the memo sent out March 11, 2009:

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF SERVICES AND STAFF OFFICES REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

FROM: PAUL F. PROUTY
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR (A)

SUBJECT: Order to Change Position Title of Assistant Regional Administrators and Deputy Assistant Regional Administrators

Effective immediately, the position title of the Assistant Regional Administrators and Deputy Assistant Regional Administrators of the Public Buildings Service and Federal Acquisition Service, respectively, in the Regions are changed to Regional Commissioners and Deputy Regional Commissioners.

The Regional Administrator will continue to rate and review the performance of the Regional Commissioners, with input from the appropriate Commissioner.

The move has already been getting positive marks from some circles within GSA. Many believe that this is the first step to giving more power to the commissioners of the Public Building Service and the Federal Acquisition Service — and thereby decreasing the authority and influence of the regional administrators. Many people have seen the politically appointed regional administrators as complicating the management structure within GSA. One of the most cited example is GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, which provides acquisition services to agencies when needed. Currently, the Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, is responsible for the organization’s profit-and-loss statement. (Assisted services runs like a business — it survives — or doesn’t — based on the business they do with agencies. Financial performance rests with the assistant commissioner — yet the personnel report to the regional administrators — now regional commissioners. It disrupts the connection between responsibility and authority.

In the end, nobody is sure what Prouty’s changes mean or what they will end up meaning, but… many people are hopeful.