Two House Republicans on Monday slammed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) for mismanaging the proposed plans for a new DHS headquarters.
A government report last week found a funding gap will raise the estimated price for the proposed campus at St. Elizabeths in Southeast Washington, and will significantly delay its completion.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), chairman of the subcommittee on oversight and management efficiency, released a statement calling into question the cost and timeline of the project. “The truth is that DHS and GSA don’t have any idea how much St. Elizabeths will cost or when it could be finished,” he said.
DHS offices are currently spread among 40 government buildings in Washington. The agency, in coordination with the GSA, proposed to consolidate the department at a new headquarters at St. Elizabeths, a former hospital for the insane.
Construction for the new headquarters is estimated to cost $4.5 billion.
Officials from both agencies told the Government Accountability Office (GAO) there was a $1.6 billion funding gap between what was requested and what was received between 2009 and 2014. The gap, the officials said, has increased estimated costs by more than $1 billion and has delayed completion of the project by 10 years.
The agencies originally expected to finish the project by next year, but it has now been pushed to 2026.
Consolidation plans were finalized between 2006 and 2009, but the GAO found the agencies haven’t updated their plans to reflect analyses of leasing options and reducing space in the new building.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Senate Democrat says hundreds of Americans, Afghan allies arrived in Qatar after being stranded in Afghan airport Early redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul MORE (R-Texas) issued a statement arguing for appropriate use of funds. “In a time of tight budgets and increased threats from around the world, it is all the more important that taxpayer dollars on homeland security are used appropriately for DHS’s vital missions,” he said.
The GAO recommended in its report that the agencies redevelop plans that contain reliable cost and schedule estimates, and urged Congress to make future funding based on those updated plans.
Norman Dong, GSA’s public buildings service commissioner, said in a statement that both Republican and Democratic administrations have supported the creation of a consolidated headquarters, but uncertainty in funding has delayed its completion.
"Given Congressional support through the Appropriations process in FY 2014, we are moving forward with the next phase of the project," Dong said.
"As GAO has noted, the uncertainty in funding and limited access to the Federal Buildings Fund creates a serious challenge for the management of real property. The piecemeal funding of the St. Elizabeth’s project phases has extended the schedule and reduced opportunities for cost savings."
— Updated at 5:06 p.m.