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AOC Faces Long Road on Management Upgrade

Although the Architect of the Capitol’s office has made some progress in revamping its management structure in recent months, “substantial work remains” to institute long-term changes, according to a recently released Government Accountability Office report.

The August report, a semi-annual study mandated by the 2003 omnibus appropriations bill, focused on eight areas: “stakeholder involvement,” which includes the agency’s relationship with Congress; employee communications; financial statements and related internal controls; financial reporting and cost accounting; information security management; worker safety performance measures; Capitol complex master planning; and recycling.

“During the 6 months we reviewed, AOC made progress on all eight key management control issues, but substantial work remains to achieve sustained, long-term management improvements and organizational transformation,” the report states.

Among the improvements noted in the report, GAO lists biweekly and monthly meetings between the Architect’s staff and Congressional offices, as well as other stakeholders. The AOC also responded to information requests and delivered planning documents, the report states.

However, GAO notes, the AOC has not developed a “a clear, transparent, and documented understanding” of how its projects are prioritized and how progress is assessed.

“AOC can strengthen its stakeholder relationships by informing congressional and other stakeholders of AOC’s progress and activities, as well as more effectively consulting with these stakeholders to build a mutual understanding of each other’s project priorities,” the report states.

Asked to respond to the report, AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki wrote in an e-mail: “As GAO reported, the AOC continues to make steady progress in addressing the recommendations. For change and organizational transformation to be effective, it takes time to build a solid foundation.

“We are committed to communicating with our stakeholders and incorporating their input to ensure that this transformation is successful,” she added. “While at the same time, we continue to focus on our mission to provide necessary services to Congress and the visiting public, and preserving and maintaining the facilities across the Capitol complex.”

The Architect’s office began work on improving its management practices in the wake of criticism from several Members including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), then-chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch, who lashed out in early 2002.