Tags: Homeland Security | headquarters | building | budget | costs

Homeland Security Headquarters Building Is $1.5 Billion Over Budget

Image: Homeland Security Headquarters Building Is $1.5 Billion Over Budget
The new headquarters of the US Coast Guard is under construction on the campus of St. Elizabeths Psychiatric Hospital, and next to a Civil War cemetery, in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington DC. (Jim Loscalzo/EPA/Landov)

By    |   Friday, 19 Sep 2014 03:08 PM

A massive construction project to house the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters in Washington is running over $1.5 billion over budget and 11 years behind schedule, all because of faulty government cost estimate practices.

The Government Accountability Office, in a highly critical report, says the DHS, developing the project along with the General Services Administration (GSA), should consider alternatives to the project located on the 176-acre grounds of St. Elizabeths West Campus, once a home for the insane, the Washington Post reports. 

The project involves the historical renovation of 51 buildings on the property and would become the new unifying location of DHS, whose staff is currently located in about 94 buildings in 50 locations around Washington, Fox News reports. 

Only one building in the project, which was conceived in 2006, and termed "the largest construction project GSA has ever done," has been completed and is in use — a headquarters building for the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The entire project, which was supposed to be completed next year, is now scheduled for completion in 2026. Its original cost estimates have ballooned from $3.3 billion to $4.5 billion.

Democrats are pushing for the project's completion, as noted in a document released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stating, "Congress should fund the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget requests of $323 million combined for the GSA and DHS to complete renovation of the St. Elizabeths Center Building Complex and provide necessary access road improvements."  

Republicans, however, seem to favor scrapping the project. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC, told the Post, "I think Americans would love to see us redirect some of these resources. We need to prioritize where we spend our taxpayer dollars."

The GAO recommended in its report "that DHS and GSA develop revised DHS headquarters plans that reflect leading practices for capital decision making and reliable cost and schedule estimates. Congress should consider making future funding for the project contingent upon DHS and GSA developing plans and estimates commensurate with leading practices."  

"Pending the development of reliable cost and schedule estimates, the project risks potential cost overruns, missed deadlines, and performance shortfalls," the GAO warned, adding that the GSA and DHS "did not follow relevant GSA guidance and GAO's leading practices when developing the cost and schedule estimates for the St. Elizabeths project, and the estimates are unreliable.

"For example, GAO found that the 2013 cost estimate—the most recent available—does not include a life-cycle cost analysis of the project, including the cost of operations and maintenance; was not regularly updated to reflect significant program changes, including actual costs; and does not include an independent estimate to help track the budget, as required by GSA guidance."

Both Jim H. Crumpacker, of the DHS, and GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini, in written reports cited by the Post, indicate they intend to work with the GAO to find solutions, and Tangherlini said funding shortfalls have created "a serious challenge" for the project.

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A massive construction project to house the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters in Washington is running over $1.5 billion over budget and 11 years behind schedule, all because of faulty government cost estimate practices.
headquarters, building, budget, costs
490
2014-08-19
Friday, 19 Sep 2014 03:08 PM
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