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Campus Notebook: House Lays Off Staff at Call Center

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.

AOC to Work on Improvement Projects During August Recess

While Congressional staffers take long lunches and early happy hours over recess, Architect of the Capitol staff will be hard at work, using a vacant campus as an opportunity to carry out much-needed construction.

“The month of August is one of the AOC’s busiest times of the year, and we will be working on numerous projects,” AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki said in an email. “Many projects are currently ongoing, such as the sidewalk replacement around the campus, the repairs to the exterior southwest stairs of the Russell [Senate Office] Building and the Trophy Room ceiling conservation in the Capitol. General projects across the Capitol campus include maintenance, painting, cleaning, repaving and equipment upgrades.”

The tunnel that runs between the Capitol and the Cannon House Office Building will be partially obstructed as workers repair the concrete ramp nearest the Capitol.

“Due to the deterioration of the concrete, the ramp has several large cracks,” House Superintendent William Weidemeyer wrote in a letter to Member offices. “As construction begins in each section, certain areas will be closed and signs will be placed to reroute pedestrian traffic.”

Vehicle traffic will be detoured in the G2 and G3 levels of the Rayburn House Office Building garage, though the facilities will remain open for parking.

The G2 repairs will focus on spalled concrete that is deteriorating. In G3, workers will remove a suspended ceiling system near the garage’s entrance, install scaffolding, remove and replace sprinkler and lighting systems, and demolish plaster and cement along the ceiling.

In the Ford House Office Building, workers will replace ceiling tiles, which will necessitate blocking off small areas of the cafeteria. The AOC is also going to build an exterior assembly shelter at the House of Representatives Child Care Center in the Ford building.

“This work will include the construction of an assembly shelter for the children to gather under during evacuations, in order to escape the dangers of extreme heat and other inclement weather,” Weidemeyer wrote.

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