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GSA Contributes to Shuttle Columbia Recovery Efforts

Posted February 4, 2003

The General Services Administration was responsible for leasing space for a federal disaster field office and for various security services after the space shuttle Columbia disaster on Feb. 1. 

GSA’s participation was triggered by President Bush’s Feb. 1 declaration of a federal emergency. The declaration authorized the use of immediate assistance to protect public health and safety and named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as lead responder.

Acting on a request from FEMA, GSA quickly found office space for roughly 150 personnel in Lufkin, Texas. Federal Protective Service officers were summoned to provide security at the site and assist the FBI in safeguarding locations where shuttle debris has been located.

“We’re the lead agency for resource support whenever there’s a national emergency,” said Michael Zanotti, director of GSA’s Office of Emergency Management. Zanotti said GSA typically provides office space, supplies, IT solutions, telecommunications services, and other logistical support during times of crisis.

“You can’t talk to anyone in north-central Texas who didn’t hear the sonic boom,” said GSA Greater Southwest Region Emergency Coordinator Bob Hominick.  But GSA personnel stayed focused on the mission at hand. “By the time the ink (on the office lease) was starting to dry, FEMA was backing up its trucks,” he said. The field office was fully operational beginning Wednesday, Feb. 5.