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Copeland takes chairmanship of Greater Kansas City FEB

By Alison Kohler

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the heels of already saving millions in taxpayer dollars by reducing duplicate efforts across local federal agencies, the Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board welcomed a new chairman with an eye toward keeping the momentum going.

Outgoing Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board Chairman John Underwood swears in incoming Chair Michael Copeland.
Outgoing Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board Chairman John Underwood (right) swears in incoming Chair Michael Copeland, regional administrator, GSA Heartland Region Oct. 17 at the Richard Bolling Federal Building. Copeland will serve as chairman for a two-year term. Photograph by Alison Kohler

GSA Heartland Regional Administrator Michael Copeland took office Oct. 17 as chairman of the Executive Committee, replacing outgoing Chairman John Underwood, associate deputy administrator, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, who completed his term with the end of fiscal year 2018.

“Honestly, I’ve been delighted to serve as FEB chair for two years,” Underwood said.

The FEB chairman is the spokesman to the public on behalf of his local federal peers, said Executive Director Larry Hisle.

“We’re like a chamber of commerce for federal agencies,” Hisle said. “Federal agencies are mission-focused on their own programs, and sometimes they forget about what else is going on locally. Different agencies are working on the same programs, and they don’t always know it. We’re the ears to the ground to let each other know and communicate  what’s going on out there.”

Operating with only two full-time staffers, the Greater Kansas City FEB serves the 38,000 federal employees in more than 150 different federal entities with a presence in the area, according to Hisle — but the FEB does much more than just share information on a regular basis. 

The impact the FEB makes is substantial with committees working on initiatives related to emergency preparedness, employee safety, wellness, workforce development and support, philanthropy, small/minority-owned businesses, sustainability, veterans affairs, and diversity education and cultural awareness.

The subcommittees’ work seeks to advance three main business lines:

  1. Emergency Preparedness, Security and Employee Safety
  2. Workforce Development and Support
  3. Strategic Partnerships

According to Hisle, the “Workforce Development and Support” business line saved taxpayers about $3 million in fiscal year 2017 by offering more than 30 interagency training sessions in the Greater Kansas City area allowing for lower-cost training and eliminating travel costs and per diem allowances. Another effort devoted to alternative dispute resolution has saved taxpayers about $1.2 million by avoiding lengthy and expensive legal processes to investigate and resolve complaints related to equal employment opportunity, protection from retaliation and collective bargaining.

“We have over 100 trained mediators, so if there is a workplace conflict in GSA for example, we’d have someone from IRS come out to negotiate a compromise,” Hisle said. “We have a 70 percent success rate in getting those resolved.”

Copeland joined the FEB and became third vice chairman when he took office as GSA Regional Administrator in February 2018. He will serve as chairman until Sept. 30, 2020.

Newly inducted Greater Kansas City FEB Chairman Michael Copeland presents outgoing Chairman John Underwood with an award.
Newly inducted Greater Kansas City FEB Chairman Michael Copeland presents outgoing Chairman John Underwood with a presidential citation in recognition of his two years of service. Photograph by Alison Kohler

Copeland said he plans to build upon the good work already achieved.

“I always strive to find ways to improve, even when there is a solid foundation already,” Copeland said.

One of GSA's strategic goals is to design and deliver expanded shared services within GSA and across the federal government to improve performance and save taxpayer money. GSA is transforming administrative services in government by leading the consolidation of common mission support processes and services across the government and making these services better, faster and more affordable while allowing government agencies to dedicate more resources to their missions.

Copeland sees the Greater Kansas City FEB as a way to keep federal workers connected and to deliver their services more effectively.

“There is a large GSA presence here, and the federal family in the Kansas City area is also very large, so it’s easy to become siloed,” Copeland said. “It’s important for the FEB to be a place for connecting the federal agencies in the Kansas City area so they can have honest dialogue to help overcome obstacles and improve delivery of service in the most efficient, and more importantly, most effective way possible.”