Biden Fires Architect of the Capitol

Architect oversees maintenance and operation of historic Capitol building and surrounding 570-acre complex and grounds.   February 21, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

Few institutional or commercial facilities have a higher profile than the U.S. Capitol, and since Jan. 6, 2021, the building and its surrounding grounds have come under even greater scrutiny than usual. But for all the Capitol’s notoriety, few people outside Washington, D.C., know about the position of Architect of the Capitol, which is responsible for its maintenance and operation. That low profile rose a little recently, but not for good reasons. 

President Joe Biden recently fired embattled Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, who oversees the historic building that houses Congress and its expansive grounds, as pressure mounted for his removal following a scathing inspector general report of personal and management lapses, according to the AP

An inspector general report released last year found “administrative, ethical and policy violations” by Blanton, a Trump-era appointee, including that he abused his government vehicle and misrepresented himself as a law enforcement official. A House hearing unearthed new questions and criticisms, including that he was not at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when it came under attack by former President Donald Trump's supporters. 

“The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job. He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately,” McCarthy said in a tweet. 

Repeated problems 

The speaker’s statement came as questions and criticism swirled around the architect, who is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the historic Capitol building and its surrounding 570-acre complex and grounds

Blanton came under intense criticism in several instances: 

  • An inspector general report found Blanton allowed unauthorized use of his work vehicle, including by his wife and adult daughter, racking up nearly 30,000 miles — about triple the estimate for his official use. 
  • Blanton testified that he was not at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack because it was a telework day under COVID-19 protocols.  
  • He faced fierce questions about Capitol tours he allowed and sometimes conducted despite pandemic restrictions. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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