CVC Watch

Posted February 11, 2008 at 6:33pm

With the Capitol Visitor Center on track to open in November, officials overseeing the facility are now focused on finding the people to help operate it.

Terrie Rouse, the CVC’s chief executive officer for visitor services, told appropriators during an oversight hearing last week that six full-time staffers already have begun their work at the CVC, helping out on plans for how the facility will run once it opens.

[IMGCAP(1)]Rouse’s team will be created essentially from scratch, consisting of more than 240 employees who will manage operations, assist in the gift shops and keep things running in the cafeteria.

But officials also are working to ensure the work force that is hired is diverse, Rouse said. Not only is it vital that different ethnicities be represented among CVC staff, it also is important that officials can communicate with visitors from all parts of the world, Rouse said.

“We need to be able to welcome everyone,” Rouse said, adding that officials have posted openings on a number of job Web sites and also are considering holding a job fair to find suitable employees.

Officials are hoping to have the bulk of the CVC staff lined up by July 31, when the Architect of the Capitol expects to be issued a temporary certificate of occupancy for the facility. That will allow employees to begin their training in the CVC while minor construction work and the remainder of fire- and life-safety tests are wrapped up.

It isn’t just technical details that CVC officials are planning for, Rouse said, explaining that the CVC could host seminars, talks, family days and other events in the first year after the opening, not only to create publicity but also to help educate people about the role of the legislative branch.

In the meantime, Congress must pass legislation formally establishing the Office of the Capitol Visitor Center within the AOC, Rouse said.

The House Administration Committee is scheduled to mark up such legislation today. The measure, sponsored by Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), officially puts the AOC in charge of the facility and outlines how the center will run once it opens in the fall.

The legislation comes 10 months after House and Senate leadership sent Ayers a letter giving the AOC the authority to run the CVC. In response, Ayers hired Rouse to begin operational preparations.