DorobekInsider: GSA chief of staff Germain steps down, no replacement named

Wednesday - 1/6/2010, 3:15pm EST

Continued changes at the top ranks of the General Services Administration — Danielle Germain, who was named GSA’s chief of staff seven months ago, told staff that she is stepping down from that post — we confirmed with Germain following a nice get by FCW’s Matthew Weigelt.

The move comes after President Obama appointed Stephen Leeds as the GSA acting administrator last month, replacing Paul Prouty stepped down to return to his former post as a GSA regional administrator and to be with his family in Denver.

There are increasing concerns around town that Martha Johnson, the Obama administration’s GSA administrator nominee, may not be able to be confirmed. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) put a hold on Johnson’s nomination in tangled spat over a federal facility in Kansas City.

But meanwhile, there are questions about what is happening among some top posts at GSA. Weigelt reports that Cathy Kronopolus, the acting chief of staff at GSA before Germain arrived, will replace her and work for Leeds. But Sahar Wali, GSA’s deputy associate administrator for communications and marketing, tells Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller in an e-mail, that no replacement has been named.

“Former Acting Chief of Staff Cathy Kronopolous is NOT filling the role of Chief of Staff – she will remain in her transition role as a Senior Advisor to the Administrator,” Wali wrote.

Furthermore, Wali said:

Its no secret that the agency has been in transition for two years. Despite being in transition, the great people that work at GSA continue to dutifully and competently run the business of government. Based on the length of time it has taken to confirm a permanent administrator, Danielle Germain has decided to take advantage of another opportunity outside the agency at this time. We are grateful to Danielle for her service to the agency and wish her well in her future endeavors.

Here is what Germain told us:

Yes, it is true that I have resigned from GSA and today is my last day. As you know, I have worked directly and indirectly with GSA for a number of years now and my time here has only reinforced in my mind that it is truly an agency with great, dedicated people. That being said, we all know that they have been in a period of transition for the last two years and considering the length of time it is taking to get a permanent Administrator, I have decided to take advantage of another opportunity.

The move leaves yet another vacancy among top ranks at GSA — an organization that essentially been in an almost constant state of flux for years.

Among the other changes: Barnaby (Barney) L. Brasseux, who has been serving as GSA’s deputy administrator since September 2008, quietly left that post last week. Weigelt reports what we have continued to hear — that the deputy administrator post will be filled by Susan Brita, staff director of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management. She will move to GSA later this month, insiders say.

But Wali said, “Any names or dates are rumors as no official announcement has been made.”

She is correct — no official announcement has been made, but the Brita appointment has been well known both within GSA and on Capitol Hill for months. Of course, we all know nothing is official until it is announcement, but… these kinds of pronouncements just come off as silly. I probably would have just responded with a ‘no comment.’

GSA did confirm an incorrect item in Weigelt’s story — FCW reported that Prouty was still in DC. In fact, the reason he stepped down from the acting administrator post was because he desperately wanted to get back home with his family in Denver.

Wali’s comment:

We continue to transition the role of Acting Administrator to Steve Leeds, Paul Prouty is obviously involved in that transition – he IS NOT maintaining an office in DC- he is helping the agency to transition into this next chapter. Paul is returning to his permanent job as Regional Commissioner for Public Buildings for the Rocky Mountain Region.

As always, GSA continues to be interesting.