Robert A. Peck is coming back to the General Services Administration as the commissioner of the agency's Public Buildings Service, GSA announced on Aug. 10. Peck, who calls the public-buildings position "the best job in real estate," served as PBS commissioner during the Clinton administration, from December 1995 until January 20, 2001.

Photo: Jones Lang LaSalle
Peck was PBS commissioner from 1995 until January 2001.

It is certainly one of the biggest real-estate jobs in the country. PBS oversees design, construction, leasing, management and security for the 354 million square feet of office buildings, courthouses, border stations and other facilities that the federal government owns or leases.

Peck, 61, who expects to start--or resume--work at GSA the week of August 17, told ENR in an interview that his top priority will be "to carry out the the recovery-act projects that GSA has, as fast as possible--in order to create jobs--and also in as effective a way as possible." He says that means "turning the money into energy-conservation outcomes in public buildings" and leaving "a long-term legacy" for the country.

GSA has $5.55 billion to spend on public buildings under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including about $4.3 billion for energy-efficiency upgrades, both large and small. Through the end of July, the agency had awarded ARRA contracts totaling almost $1.1 billion, with a majority of those dollars awarded within the last three weeks of that month.

Contractor and design firms, weighed down by the recession, have been aggressively pursuing GSA's stimulus projects. Peck says, "Obviously [the reason] why GSA was given so much recovery work was it was pretty clear that the first, second, and third priorities--going down the list to 10--are getting that money out the door, and in an effective way, as fast as possible and into the hands of people who can turn it into jobs...."

He also expects to continue GSA's "design excellence" program, which since it was launched in 1994 has resulted in a wave of courthouses and other federal buildings designed by the nation's top architects. "I'm still for it," says Peck. "I think it's one of the best things that GSA has done in the last few decades."

Peck returns to GSA from Jones Lang LaSalle, where he has been a managing director in the real estate company firm's Washington, D.C., office. He had been with The Staubach Co., which was acquired by Jones Lang LaSalle last year.

After leaving GSA in 2001, he became president of the Greater Washington [D.C.] Board of Trade. He has been a private attorney, specializing in real estate and land use, and also was the American Institute of Architects' vice president for public affairs.

In addition to his earlier stint at GSA, Peck's long government career also includes serving as chief of staff to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and working at the Office of Management and Budget, National Endowment for the Arts and Federal Communications Commission.