Tennessee commissioner who pushed privitization of operations returning to private sector

Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - State General Services Commissioner Steve Cates, whose push to privatize the department's operations has roiled state employees, will step down Aug. 20 to return to the private sector.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam made the announcement this morning, said Cates had all along planned to stay for only two years but extended that until now.

"Steve has put a lot of work into bringing state government into the 21st Century," Haslam said in a news release. "We now have a reliable inventory of state properties; we have a plan to maintain those properties instead of deferring maintenance costs until there is a crisis."

The governor said his administration is now "creating more functional and cost-effective work spaces for our employees; and we're leveraging the state's buying power to save taxpayer dollars."

Calling those "significant changes," Haslam said he is "grateful to Steve's dedication to see these projects through."