After facing months of scrutiny over how the state outsources its services, the man in charge of that task is stepping down.
Department of General Services Commissioner Steve Cates is resigning from his post effective later this month and will return to the private sector, according to the governor’s office.
“Leading the Department of General Services has been a rewarding experience, and I appreciate the governor’s vision and support as we’ve worked to transform state government,” Cates said in a press release.
Cates, 50, pushed to privatize several functions within state government, including management of state buildings. To do so, the state contracted with Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, a company Gov. Bill Haslam had once invested with. The episode caused a stir and last month a Republican-led legislative committee questioned the administration on the decision before dropping the issue.
Under Cates’ leadership, the agency also outsourced auto maintenance to Bridgestone Retail Operations, a company once led by then-Commissioner of Finance and Administration Mark Emkes. Cates’ department was also under fire for contracting with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in a deal that raised questions about cost savings.
A partner in Cates-Kottas Development since 1991, Cates took the job as a state commissioner on the condition he would serve for two years, according to the press release, although the commissioner stayed on past that original commitment.
Cates is the fifth member of the governor’s cabinet to leave the administration this year. He follows the exits of embattled Department of Children Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day, who was engrossed in criticism for flaws in how the department tracks and handles child abuse cases. Department of Labor and Workforce Commissioner Karla Davis also left this year citing family reasons, although her resignation came just before the release of a damning state audit of her department and amid allegations of questionable hiring practices.
Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes and Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey also retired this year saying they want to spend more time with their families.
Cates’ last day is Aug. 20. The governor has yet to name a replacement.