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‘Loaned’ exec heads city property office

(Published August 14, 2000)


Staff Writer

An "executive on loan," paid by real estate giant CarrAmerica, has headed the city government’s property management office on an interim basis since the departure last March of former chief property management officer Kenneth R. Kimbrough.

Harold Nelson, who has been on loan to work for the D.C. government for approximately one year, said Aug. 12 that he expects to return to his full-time job managing downtown D.C. commercial office buildings for CarrAmerica in the near future.

Although Nelson’s voicemail message still identifies him as the D.C. Office of Property Management’s interim chief, Nelson said he is no longer working full time for the government. He said the property management office’s day-to-day activities currently are in the hands of Alfreda Davis, an assistant to City Administrator Norman Dong.

Dong could not be reached for comment on the status of finding a permanent chief to manage the city government’s property portfolio. Peggy Armstrong, press secretary to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said she expects a new chief property management officer to be named soon.

During a city council hearing earlier this year, Nelson testified that he is not interested in assuming the position on a permanent basis. He reiterated that position during a recent telephone conversation and said he declined an offer of employment from the D.C. government.

Nelson said he was "careful to recuse myself on a couple occasions" from involvement in any dealings between the D.C. government and his employer while working in the city’s property management office.

Nelson said CarrAmerica acts as a third-party manager for the building at 1133 15th St. NW that houses the D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel. He said he is unaware of any other CarrAmerica involvement with the D.C. government.

Nelson characterized his supervisory role over D.C. workers as "telling people what we could or should do — I’m just a resource." He said he was "not in a position to do employee work evaluations or hand out assignments."

Unlike private sector employees who work for the city government under so-called "inter-agency personnel agreements" or IPAs, which require the private employer to be reimbursed for personnel expenses, Nelson said CarrAmerica has continued to pay his salary and benefits during his period of being on loan to the government.

"I am not compensated by the city; my pay comes from CarrAmerica," Nelson said.

Inspector General Charles C. Maddox currently is investigating the extent of the Williams administration’s improper use of private-sector employees to perform government jobs.

While the law allows limited use of private-sector workers in government positions through IPAs, Maddox told Mayor Williams in an Aug. 10 report that his office has found at least two departments under the mayor’s authority that are violating the law by paying illegal profits to workers’ private employers through IPAs.

Maddox also expressed concern that "the inappropriate use of an IPA to circumvent District laws, regulations, and management oversight may have even more dire consequences in terms of subverting efforts to achieve long-term accountability and productivity in government operations and programs."

He told the mayor that any future IPAs should be reviewed by the Office of the Corporation Counsel for compliance with the law. Maddox recently sought an opinion from Corporation Counsel Robert Rigsby about the legality of the city’s current IPAs.

Maddox also recommended that the D.C. Office of Personnel be involved in identifying and evaluating all IPAs, current and future, to make sure "that justification exists for not competing the position at career employee salary levels."

D.C. Personnel Director Milou Carolan said she is aware of only 19 current IPAs, although Maddox has already turned up 27 such agreements. The 19 include individuals who are working for the Human Services and Corrections departments, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the control board.


Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator