architect-of-the-capitol

IG Report: Some members of Congress sexually harassed night-shift custodians
Architect of the Capitol officials accused of creating ‘culture of permissibility’

An Architect of the Capitol worker paints the wall at the top of the escalator to the Senate subway in the Capitol in November 2015. A recent report alleges a sexual harassment ‘culture of permissibility’ in the AOC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress allegedly sexually harassed night shift custodial staff while they cleaned their offices. Sexual harassment prevention training went off the rails. And the Architect of the Capitol has no unified system for effectively tracking complaints and resolutions of sexual harassment cases.

These are just some of the findings in a recent inspector general’s report on sexual harassment within the AOC in the last decade.

The bells of Congress, they are a-changin’
Architect of the Capitol eyes replacement ‘legislative call system’ of bells and clocks

The Architect of the Capitol is moving forward with plans to replace the bells and clocks of the legislative call system. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a new tempo coming to Capitol Hill, as plans move forward to replace the bells and clocks of the legislative call system. That means the familiar buzzes and blinking lights that have ruled the corridors for years could be changing.

The Architect of the Capitol is looking to commission the development, design and installation of a revamped system. It will work alongside the existing network used to alert members of Congress and staff to action on the floor.

House and Senate building superintendents placed on administrative leave
The high ranking Architect of the Capitol employees are under investigation

The House and Senate building superintendents, who work under acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdron, picture here, have been put on leave, pending an investigation into inappropriate emails. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two high ranking Architect of the Capitol employees charged with leading all operations of the House and Senate office buildings have been placed on administrative leave, an AOC spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer and Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras were placed on leave pending an investigation into inappropriate emails. Weidemeyer and Tzamaras both report to acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon, who took the helm of the agency in late November 2018 after Stephen T. Ayers retired.

GAO says Architect of the Capitol needs workforce management changes
Government watchdog points to 2017 layoffs and urges formalized process to collect information on staffing needs

The Government Accountability Office says the Architect of the Capitol needs to revamp some workforce practices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Architect of the Capitol’s construction division is designed to provide flexible labor options across the agency, but the Government Accountability Office says AOC needs to institute a formal process for collecting information on projects and priorities to better manage the temporary staff. In recent years employees in the construction division were given little notice of layoffs due to lack of work in certain jurisdictions.

In a report released this week, the GAO says AOC has missed opportunities to obtain information critical to making informed decisions about project staffing.

Library of Congress and Architect of the Capitol both request 2020 funding boosts
Senate appropriators will weigh requests against budget authorities

The Library of Congress and the Architect of the Capitol are both seeking budget increases for fiscal 2020. Agency heads appeared before the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee led by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators dug into budget requests from the Architect of the Capitol and Library of Congress on Wednesday at the Legislative Branch subcommittee, with both agencies seeking increases for fiscal 2020.

Chairwoman Cindy Hyde-Smith opened the hearing with a warning tone for her first meeting running the panel.

Capitol Police want $3.8 million for security at Democratic and Republican conventions
Local police typically focus on demonstrations and protests, so Capitol Police works to keep lawmakers safe

Decisions about funding for security at the 2020 Democratic and Republican conventions are underway. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Capitol Police are asking for an additional $3.8 million in next year’s general expenses budget to fund security efforts at next summer’s Democratic and Republican national conventions in Milwaukee and Charlotte.

That’s up from the fiscal 2019 general expenses budget, which totaled $81.6 million. The Architect of the Capitol also asked for $7 million in more funding to begin preparations for the 2021 inauguration.

Should Congress spend more on itself to avoid deterioration?
Former lawmakers and groups think crisis is brewing if investments not made

Civil society organizations and former lawmakers are calling on appropriators to boost funding for Congress itself to avoid a “crisis.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Civil society groups and former lawmakers are calling on appropriators to boost funding for Congress itself to stem what they call a “significant loss of institutional capacity.”

Ten former lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, joined more than three dozen groups to pen letters to House and Senate appropriators asking that the Legislative Branch slice of the federal funding pie get a bit larger. Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Eva M. Clayton of North Carolina were among the former members to sign the letter, which was led by the advocacy organization Demand Progress. 

DC’s plastic straw ban stirs up feelings on Capitol Hill
Deadline for compliance with straw ban is July

The Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the eateries on Capitol Hill transitioning to non-plastic straws. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If your warm-weather routine calls for a switch from hot coffee to iced, prepare yourself. Spring is officially here, and the plastic exodus is underway, according to Roll Call’s audit of straws on Capitol Hill.

Many staffers first felt the shift at the Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts, if all the queries we got in recent weeks are any indication. “What’s the deal with the paper straws at Dunkin’?” was a popular refrain.

House staff evacuated from Cannon Thursday afternoon, amid ongoing construction
The exact cause of the alarm and evacuation was not announced

Emergency management personnel from various Capitol Hill agencies gather to discuss the evacuation if the Cannon House Office Building at New Jersey Avenue and C Street Southeast. (Katherine Tully-McManus / CQ Roll Call)

Staff and visitors were evacuated from the Cannon House Office Thursday afternoon for about 45 minutes after alarms began blaring throughout the building.

The evacuation notice went out to staff via email just before 1 p.m.

Capitol Hill is buzzing: Architect of the Capitol rehomes bee colony
Massive bee hive and 10 pounds of honey removed from historic ash tree

An Architect of the Capitol ground crew removed a massive beehive from an ash tree on the Capitol campus Wednesday. (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

Capitol Hill was buzzing Wednesday morning and it had nothing to do with Congress or news. An Architect of the Capitol ground crew removed a massive bee hive from an ash tree on the Capitol campus.

Images from the AOC show a large limb of the ash tree being removed, with the hive tucked inside. The team that removed the bee colony from the historic tree was made up of AOC arborists and a beekeeper, according to spokesperson Erin Courtney.