State spending $493K to renovate ECD offices

While Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration moves toward outsourcing management and operations of all state-owned buildings, parks, prisons and college campuses with a goal of saving taxpayers money, it’s also spending $493,000 to renovate a single floor in a state office tower.

Further from Richard Locker:

That project will knock down walls, install a more open office layout and upgrade restrooms on the 27th floor of the Tennessee Tower state office building across the street from the State Capitol. The floor houses the headquarters of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and was where the governor himself worked for eight months in 2012 during a major renovation of the Capitol.

The project is the first of several similar “alternative workplace solutions” renovations planned by the same small cadre of contracted consultants and top-level state employees also running the governor’s controversial real-estate outsourcing initiative, which would turn over the management and operations of all state-owned property — including college campuses — to a private-sector contractor.

Operating under the direction of Haslam’s appointed chief operating officer, Greg Adams, the “Office of Customer Focused Government” has four projects underway: the overall facilities management outsourcing initiative; the “alternative workplace solutions” effort focused on consolidating office space; an energy efficiency project; and a separate effort on “real estate process improvements.”

The Building Commission, which is controlled by legislative rather than executive branch appointees, delayed action earlier this month on the request to approve and expedite the project — but then approved it without discussion on Monday.

…(General Services Commissioner Bob) Oglesby told the commission (earlier) the project was “specifically requested” by ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd to increase productivity of his agency. Boyd, a Knoxville businessman, headed Haslam’s efforts to increase the number of Tennesseans with college degrees and post-high-school certificates until the governor appointed him ECD commissioner in January.