House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Strodel has announced he is restructuring the organization, a move that has already resulted in layoffs to a key department serving Member offices.
Twenty-three employees were given pink slips Thursday, according to a House official familiar with the transition, including 10 from the First Call Service Center, the first point of contact for Member offices for everything from moving furniture to filing “Dear Colleague” letters.
“We made some organizational changes to refocus on our core mission,” CAO spokesman Dan Weiser said in an email. “As is the case with most reorganizations, difficult decisions must be made. However, these changes will strengthen our operations and services as we become more efficient.”
Strodel, whose office is facing an $11 million budget cut going into the next fiscal year, laid out the changes in a Friday “Dear Colleague” letter to Members and staff. Previously, each Member office worked with a personal office coordinator in First Call, but the department will now be run more like a call center.
“We ask for your patience as we make this transition,” Strodel wrote, saying the moves would streamline his office. “Our goal is to better serve you, and we expect the new structure to be more responsive to your needs.”
But the moves are already raising concerns from House Administration Committee Democrats, who said Strodel, a former Democratic staffer on the committee, did not reach out to Member offices first.
“We are concerned that the reorganization of the CAO was conducted without any meaningful input from Member offices and will result in the reduction of critical services performed by that organization,” Democratic Reps. Robert Brady (Pa.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) and Charlie Gonzalez (Texas) said in a joint statement. “The ill-advised Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill may have necessitated these reductions, but it appears they have been pursued using a hatchet instead of a scalpel. We will be closely monitoring how this impacts Members’ ability to perform services on behalf of their constituents and will hold the CAO accountable for any degradation in service.”
First Call has been rolled into the new Office of Logistics and Support, formerly titled Assets, Furnishing and Logistics, along with photography, graphics and office supplies.
The Office of Administration and Financial Services is now the Office of Finance, which will handle finance, budget, accounting, payroll, Member services and benefits services.
Procurement has become the Office of Acquisitions Management, overseeing acquisitions, procurement, purchasing and contract management.
Strodel is also re-establishing the Office of Human Resources to manage employee assistance, diversity, training and development, and human resources management for the remaining 708-person CAO workforce and the Wounded Warrior Program.
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Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.