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GSA Honored with White House Preserve America Award

GSA #  10503

May 12, 2008
Contacts:  Renee Miscione, (212) 264-8260
MaryAnne Beatty, (202) 501-0768

WASHINGTON—Today President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush honored the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) with a Preserve America award for the African Burial Ground project, the agency announced today.  The project was one of four Preserve America awards presented for exemplary work in the field of historic preservation.

"We are very proud to receive this award,” said GSA Acting Administrator David Bibb. “The African Burial Ground project is an outstanding accomplishment in archaeological documentation and preservation, and exemplifies the intent of the Preserve America initiative. Moreover, it demonstrates GSA’s commitment to protecting America's cultural heritage and educating the public, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, about this chapter of our nation’s history.”

GSA’s African Burial Ground project began in 1991, when, during excavation work for a new federal office building, workers discovered the skeletal remains of the first of more than 400 men, women and children.  Further investigation revealed that during the 17th and 18th centuries, free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6 acre burial ground in lower Manhattan outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, which would become New York. Over the decades, the unmarked cemetery was covered over by development and landfill.  Today the site is a National Monument featuring a distinctive memorial that commemorates and communicates the story of the African Burial Ground—one of the most important, historic urban archaeological projects undertaken in the United States.

Managed by GSA, the overall project is a testimonial to a positive and collaborative partnership between many parties, including the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Howard University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the African American community. 

Preserve America is a special White House initiative that each year recognizes four organizations, businesses, government entities or individuals that demonstrate commitment and accomplishment to the preservation of cultural or natural heritage assets.  Mark Dremel, of GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Region, who served as the African Burial Ground project manager from 2003 to 2007, accepted the award for the agency. 

“Since 1991, when the burial ground was first rediscovered, GSA has worked diligently to fulfill its commitment to memorialize the site and to better inform future generations about its history, its people, and how they contributed to shaping a nation.  This award recognizes not only the historic and cultural significance of the African Burial Ground, but also the extraordinary efforts of the many individuals and organizations that worked together on this unique project,” said GSA Regional Administrator Emily R. Baker.

For more information about the African Burial Ground project, please visit


GSA provides a centralized delivery system of products and services to the federal government, leveraging its enormous buying power to get the best value for taxpayers.

•          Founded in 1949, GSA manages more than one-fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including 8,600 government-owned or leased buildings and 208,000 vehicles. 
•          GSA helps preserve our past and define our future, as a steward of more than 420 historic properties, and as manager of, the official portal to federal government information and services.
•          GSA’s mission to provide superior workplaces, expert technology solutions, acquisition services, purchasing and E-Gov travel solutions and management policies, at best value, allows federal agencies to focus on their core missions.
Did You Know?  Twenty-five percent of GSA’s owned buildings are historic.   

Last Reviewed 2010-04-30