GSA urges DHS headquarters funding from Congress in 2016 budget

With less than a month left for Congress to pass a budget for fiscal 2016, the General Services Administration is making its case to secure funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s long-awaited new headquarters.

GSA on Friday released an Efficiency Plan for a new DHS headquarters at the St. Elizabeths campus in Southwest D.C. that would cut nearly $1 billion from the price tag and bring the completion date down by five years.

Under this new cost-saving plan, GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth says Congress should fully fund the project to achieve better cost savings in the long term.

“Incorporating the latest space planning and technology solutions, GSA and DHS will be able to cut costs, reduce square footage, and deliver this project faster — saving taxpayers $1.2 billion over 30 years,” Roth said in a statement. “In keeping with the Obama administration’s reduce the footprint policy, the consolidation will allow us to cut the federal footprint by 1.8 million square feet and completely reverse DHS’s leased-to-owned ratio. The DHS headquarters consolidation is more than halfway complete, and fully funding the enhanced plan in FY16 would get us closer to the finish line.”

Through efficiency measures, such as increased teleworking and desk sharing, GSA hopes to accommodate 3,000 more DHS employees in the office space.

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GSA’s new Enhanced Plan for the Department of Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeths campus
 If federal funding remains on schedule, GSA expects the St. Elizabeths campus redesign to be complete by 2021.

The consolidation plan would shore up DHS’ 50-plus office buildings scattered across Washington, D.C. into as few as six offices.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, voiced his support of GSA’s new proposal.

“Consolidating the Department of Homeland Security at St. Elizabeths gets at the heart of our two main goals on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: to protect our nation’s security and ensure everything we do in government is done in a fiscally responsible way. It is simply unacceptable for the agency responsible for securing our nation from terrorist attacks and responding to disasters to be scattered across dozens of leased locations in and around Washington, D.C.”

The proposal previously came with a $4.5 billion price tag, which Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, rejected as too costly in Sept. 2014.

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