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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

GSA replaces career leader of policy office with political appointee

The chief of the General Services Administration has replaced the acting head of the agency's Office of Governmentwide Policy -- a 33-year career federal employee -- with a political appointee.

GSA Administrator Lurita Doan selected Kevin Messner to serve as the policy office's acting associate administrator, replacing John Sindelar, who has headed it with the same title since December 2005. Messner will also continue in his role as associate administrator for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, a position he has held since June 2006.

Neither of Messner's jobs are subject to Senate confirmation, and officials in acting positions do not have to be approved by the White House's Presidential Personnel Office. This is the first time the office has been headed by a political appointee, according to GSA.

A GSA spokeswoman said that Doan made the decision to name a political appointee because of the office's involvement with the President's Management Agenda initiatives. The five main items on the agenda are personnel reform, improved financial management, electronic government, opening work not considered core to government to contractors and use of program performance information to inform budget decisions.

The Office of Governmentwide Policy was created in December 1995 as a means of consolidating GSA's policy functions. It has authority to set policies in the areas of personal and real property, travel and transportation, information technology, regulatory information and use of federal advisory committees.

Sindelar has played an instrumental role in launching and implementing the Bush administration's e-government and lines of business initiatives, which are part of the President's Management Agenda. The e-government effort is designed in part to make government services more accessible to citizens online, and the lines of business initiative is aimed at consolidating back-end technology systems across government, in areas such as financial management and human resources.

-Daniel Pulliam, GovExec.com

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