Get to know: GSA Region 2 – Northeast and Caribbean

This story is part of Federal News Network’s ongoing series: GSA @ 70: Mission evolved

GSA manages over 22 million square feet of government-owned and leased space in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What you may not know about the region

Over the past 70 years, Region 2 has been a part of many major events including the discovery of the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan in 1991 and its subsequent commemoration. Region 2 employees helped repair damaged buildings after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Regional Administrator John Sarcone III: How has the region changed over its history?

“As regional administrator, I have been with this region for just a short time, so recently, I sat down with our Regional Counsel Carol Latterman to hear some of the stories she recalls from her 42 years of service. I am blown away by just how much our region has changed over the course of GSA’s 70 year history.

John Sarconne III, GSA Region 2, General Services Administration
John Sarconne III, administrator for GSA Region 2

“In 1949, shortly after President Harry Truman established GSA, a New York City regional center quickly followed suit. The region consisted of New York State, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and its headquarters were first located in a federal building at 250 Hudson St. in Manhattan, before eventually moving to 30 Church St., 26 Federal Plaza, and our current location at One World Trade Center.

“By the 1950’s and 1960’s, the region incorporated the Federal Telecommunications Service to serve the ever-changing needs of federal agencies. Around that same time, GSA launched a major building program, eventually known as the Public Buildings Service, to address the needs of federal office space. As a result, federal office buildings in Syracuse, Rochester, Newark, St. Thomas and Hato Rey were completed in the 1970’s. In 1972, Region 2 realigned its territories to include the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, while Pennsylvania and Delaware became part of Region 3.

“In the late 1970’s, flexible schedules and telework options for the workforce were not established, so employees based in the region’s headquarters followed the same work schedule: 8:15 a.m – 4:45 p.m. … Everyone in the agency arrived at the same time, took breaks at the same time, and concluded the work day at the same time.

“The first computers arrived in our region in the 1980’s, allowing efficiency and productivity to skyrocket. While the “machines” initially seemed foreign to some and others were hesitant, the workforce evolved to embrace the technology, leaving carbon paper, stenographers, typewriters andtyping pools — a pool of typists called upon to type letters — behind.”

Who is the region’s longest serving GSA employee and what do they do?

Gary Palmer had 43 years of service with GSA as of July 2019. He is the [everything but Manhattan] Service Center director, and his team is responsible for three main areas of work: Property management, lease administration and project delivery up to $250,000 – for all of Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Northern New Jersey, Upstate New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Then and now

The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse is a Classical Revival building for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. It was completed in 1936 and was the setting for several high-profile cases including the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1950, and the trial of Martha Stewart in 2004. It was renamed in 2001 for the first African American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

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