The price tag for open government in D.C. City Hall has now crept above $300,000.
The District will spend $167,900 to reshape space on the fifth floor of the John A. Wilson Building into a "bullpen," where City Administrator Dan Tangherlini and up to 40 staff members will work in open cubicles, free of walls and closed-door offices. The construction contract was awarded last week to D.C.-based R&R Janitorial, Painting and Building Services Inc., and the work is expected to start today.
R&R performed the same demolition job late last year for then Mayor-elect Adrian Fenty under a $134,000 deal. Fenty’s third-floor bullpen, where the chief executive sits among 30 of his top deputies, policy aides and schedulers, was inspired by a similar partition-free layout in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s city hall office.
Tangherlini maintains a desk in the mayor’s bullpen, but the city administrator’s staff still works out of the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets, home to the Fenty transition. The money for Tangherlini’s office will be drawn from the Wilson Building budget.
Proponents of the open work area say the bullpen promotes a healthy work atmosphere by taking government out from behind closed doors. Critics, especially those in New York, argue having the boss only a few feet away stifles honest conversation and productivity.
Former Mayor Anthony Williams worked out of the highly secure sixth floor of the Wilson Building.
"I don’t ever have to leave this room to get all the work done in the District of Columbia government," Fenty said in January when he unveiled his bullpen to the public. "I think it’s motivating to my employees to have me right there working with them instead of holed off somewhere far, far away."