GSA’s new Public Building Service commissioner takes on real property, FBI and DHS projects

Michael Gelber’s last day as the General Services Administration’s acting public buildings service commissioner is likely to be a busy one.

Gelber is set to testify Aug. 2 before Congress on the cancellation of the FBI headquarters consolidation project and future needs of the bureau. The next day, he’ll return to his previous post as deputy PBS commissioner, as Dan Mathews is sworn in as the new leader of GSA’s real property portfolio.

GSA’s real property portfolio consists of 370 million rentable square feet and more than 8,600 active assets, according to GSA. Mathews’ appointment was announced July 28.

Tim Horne, acting GSA administrator, said Mathews’ experience working on Capitol Hill “will be an invaluable asset to PBS and GSA.”

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“Dan has a tremendous appreciation for the value PBS delivers and we look forward to benefiting from his leadership experience and expert insight,” Horne said. “I look forward to working with him to provide our partners in government with the facilities they need to carry out their important missions while creating cost-saving efficiencies and reducing our footprint.”

Mathews served the past 14 years as the Republican staff director for the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) called Mathews an asset and dedicated public servant.

“His rare expertise in the subcommittee’s issues, particularly as it relates to public buildings, has helped Congress pass legislation to make the federal government reduce costs, make smarter decisions in federal real estate, operate more efficiently, and save taxpayers billions of dollars,” Shuster said in a statement. “I know he will continue to do the same as Public Buildings Service commissioner, and the administration has made an excellent choice to fulfill that role.”

Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said Mathews was “instrumental” in helping the government handle disasters, and implement waste, fraud and abuse policies related to federal real property.

“Dan has a strong record of streamlining inefficiencies in the federal government and protecting taxpayer dollars,” Barletta said. “I’m confident that Dan will continue to serve the American people well in his new role.”

FBI and DHS headquarters

While Mathews might dodge this week’s hearing on the FBI headquarters project, it’s likely to stay on his plate for the foreseeable future.

GSA earlier this month announced the cancellation of the consolidation project, citing a nearly $1 billion funding gap.

Federal, state, and local representatives from the D.C. area criticized the decision, and Horne was called the day after the announcement to testify on Capitol Hill about the future of the project. Horne defended the decision to halt plans, saying the “structure of the deal, plus the lack of funding, equals an inability to move forward.”

“We are absolutely committed to working with this committee and the Office of Management and Budget on all options moving forward,” Horne told members of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. “There is no doubt the FBI consolidation is a priority for this administration and for GSA.”

Mathews is also going to take the lead for the consolidation of DHS and its components to St. Elizabeths in Washington. The president’s budget includes $85 million in funding for the move.

Former DHS Secretary John Kelly, now serving as President Donald Trump chief of staff, said he’s recognized the need to consolidate most of the department in one location. The move will not only save DHS billions of dollars over the next several years, but it will also increase productivity and improve time management.

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