After serving three years as acting head of the office of the Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers has been nominated to a full, 10-year term as the Capitol Architect.
The "AOC" is responsible for maintaining and operating the Capitol building, as well as the Library of Congress, Supreme Court building and other federal facilities on and near Capitol Hill.
President Obama sent Ayers' nomination to the Senate on Feb. 24. Ayers next will go through the Senate confirmation process.
Ayers, a 13-year veteran of the AOC office, has served as acting architect since February 2007, when Alan M. Hantman retired. Ayers also has been deputy architect and chief operating officer since 2005.
Andrew Goldberg, the American Institute of Architects' senior director for federal relations, says, "This is absolutely the right choice." Goldberg praises Ayers for his management acumen in running the AOC office, which has a work force of about 2,600 and a budget of about $600 million.
Ayers also is a licensed architect, another key criterion for the post, in AIA's view.
The search has been an unusually protracted one, even by Washington standards. Goldberg says, "This has been kind of the world's longest job interview."
After Hantman announced he would be retiring in 2007, AIA had contacted the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees the AOC office, and provided the committee with a list of possible candidates for the job. As the process went on, senators said they wanted someone who had experience managing a large staff, according to Goldberg.
The Senate hired a search firm, and names of other potential candidates surfaced. "Ayers was in the mix as well," Goldberg says.
Ayers came to the AOC office in 1997 after working as a general engineer with the Voice Of America, where he led construction projects in Europe.
Earlier, Ayers spent five years on active duty as a U.S. Air Force officer, where he was a was a staff architect and design team chief and managed many construction projects.
The House on Feb. 3 passed a bill that would do away with presidential nomination and Senate confirmation of the AOC and instead require the AOC to be appointed jointly by House and Senate leaders of both parties. There has been no Senate action on the legislation.
Hantman was the first AOC to be nominated and confirmed, under legislation enacted in 1990.
[See Ayers bio at http://www.aoc.gov/aoc/architects/Stephen-T-Ayers.cfm]