Moving Ahead

Posted February 12, 2008 at 6:38pm

The House Administration Committee unanimously approved a measure on Tuesday officially placing the Architect of the Capitol in charge of Capitol Visitor Center operations.

[IMGCAP(1)]The legislation now heads to the House floor for a full vote, where it is expected to pass.

Introduced by Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), the bill also officially gives management responsibilities of the CVC to the newly created chief executive officer of visitor services, a position currently held by Terrie Rouse.

In her position, Rouse is expected to oversee more than 240 employees involved in CVC operations. The CEOVS also is expected to draft the CVC’s budget each year.

Brady noted that under the bill, the Capitol Guide Service officially moves to the CVC. The Special Services Office, now under the guides, becomes a separate group called the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services, whose purpose is to provide accessibility services for persons with disabilities.

Security operations at the CVC remain under the control of the Capitol Police, Brady said. The measure will allow the CVC to become a “fully functioning operation” once the CVC opens in November, he added.

Before Tuesday’s markup, Brady also noted that several portraits of former House Administration chairmen now hang in the committee’s hearing room, including one of former Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), who served as chairwoman of the panel for the opening months of the 110th Congress before dying of cancer in April 2007.

Not So New Hire. The Office of Compliance now has a permanent director after almost two years without one.

The agency’s board of directors announced Friday that Tamara Chrisler will be the new executive director. Chrisler has been acting executive director for more than a year, waiting for Congress to change the Congressional Accountability Act to allow her to move up. She also has served as the OOC’s deputy executive director for the Senate since 2005.

Last month, President Bush signed into law a bill that changes a provision in the CAA that prohibited current and former OOC employees from taking the agency’s top four executive positions. As the act originally was written, Chrisler was barred from becoming the agency’s executive director.

Chrisler now officially is in charge of the agency, which acts as a nonpartisan watchdog, conducting health and safety inspections on Congressional buildings and mediating disputes for legislative employees. It is tasked with enforcing the CAA, which protects Congressional employees under 11 laws covering fair employment and discrimination.

Blogosphere Bragging Rights. All that work into becoming Web-savvy is starting to pay off for the Library of Congress. Its blog is a finalist for the SXSW Web Awards, which honor Web sites that are “implementing tomorrow’s online trends.”

The Library’s blog began last April as a way to highlight various events, finds, collections and programs. The entries, written by spokesman Matt Raymond, range from press releases to musings on America’s history, with a little bit of humor added in. Recent entries point readers to the oral history of the last living World War I veteran and express surprise at the large turnout to a lecture on parking garages.

In recent years, Library officials have focused on creating a “fourth door” for the Library in the form of the Internet, most recently posting hundreds of archival photos on Flickr, a photo-sharing Web site. Raymond is a big proponent of “Web 2.0” and expressed in a recent blog post the Library’s urge “to reach people on a more personal level, and to talk with them, not at them.”

The winners of the SXSW awards will be announced in Austin, Texas, on March 9. Other finalists in the blog category included one that lists “passive aggressive notes” and another that asks readers to vent about the office. The Library’s blog can be found at loc.gov/blog.

Seeking Bragging Rights. New portraits aren’t the only new addition to the House Administration Committee. The panel, which plays a big role in overseeing Congressional technology needs, has revamped its Web site.

Along with a new design, the Web site now features links to key House Administration issues, such as the Green the Capitol Initiative, Capitol Visitor Center project and election reform. Live webcasts of House Administration hearings also are available on the site, along with a presentation detailing the history of the panel.

And just in case somebody overseas needs to know something about House Administration, the Web site also includes a program translating its contents into a number of languages, including Spanish, French and Norwegian.

According to a spokesman, House Administration officials are hoping their efforts will help the site earn a Gold Mouse Award from the Congressional Management Foundation, an honor given to the top Congressional Web sites.

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