November 30, 2009

Analysis: General Services loses its public info shop

Print More

Here’s an interesting casualty of the state budget axe. The Department of General Services has cut its press shop in order to save some cash. This means Dave Humphrey, a long-time radio man and one of the most memorable voices in Maryland’s public relations apparatus, will be moving on.

Dave was an interesting fellow to work with, and I spoke to him frequently during my time at The Daily Record. He sent out an e-mail Monday instructing reporters to call the office of Secretary Alvin Collins with questions. The state cut two positions in the communications office, leaving it with none.

Humphrey was at DGS for almost 17 years. Before that, he worked  for 25 years in Baltimore radio for WCBM and WLIF. At WCBM, he worked as a news anchor, but also produced Baltimore Colts football games. He said he’s looking for his next gig, and it’s a friendly departure. He leaves Tuesday. The cuts were made during the most recent round of budget reductions two weeks ago.

“I don’t look at it as a personal decision,” Humphrey said. “It’s strictly business.”

There’s another element to consider with this move, though. Though it may not be the sexiest department , DGS is really one of the most integral to the way the state does business. It houses most of the state’s procurement functions, which control purchasing and contracting. Those are some of the areas of state government where transparency is most important.

The department awarded almost $293 million in contracts last year, and also manages most of the state’s real estate, including the State House.

Dave and his staff could generally be counted on to connect reporters to the right sources in the department, to explain complex spending proposals and other issues, even if they took a little bit of prodding sometimes. Here’s hoping that the department is committed to sunshine on its operations, even without a public information liaison.