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The Bullpen and the Future of Office Space

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For months, Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, has been promoting the open-office “bullpen” arrangement of agency executive offices made famous by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tangherlini’s predecessor at GSA, Martha Johnson, was also a big fan of shared offices without walls space to facilitate rapid collegial communication -- as opposed to giving each executive a large, isolating, single-person cave.

But The New York Times reported on Saturday that Bloomberg’s famous bullpen may not be long for the Big Apple.

The candidates running to succeed Bloomberg do not favor retaining the setup that the billionaire modeled after a stock trading shop. “It’s hard to be able to focus and do work in that kind of environment,” said Democratic candidate William Thompson. “It’s hard to read.”

In the bullpen, said Bill de Blasio, another Democratic candidate, “the mayor is surrounded by the voices of his inner circle. But he’s been unable to hear the voices of the people.”

A GSA spokesman declined comment on the article.

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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