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Monumental Effort on Flooded IRS Building

Posted December 13, 2006

For most Washingtonians, the flood waters and flood memories from June 2006 have pretty much receded.  Not so for the Internal Revenue Service.

On June 26, 2006, 5.5 million gallons of water rushed into the IRS headquarters on Constitution Avenue, filling its sub-basement with 20 feet of water and inundating the building’s electrical and air-handling equipment.  Some 2,400 IRS employees were suddenly without a workplace, and a prominent building and major government institution in the heart of Washington’s Federal Triangle was dark and vacant.

But, thanks to GSA, the first wave of IRS employees began moving back into the headquarters building on December 8, 2006—an astonishing turn-around time for such a staggering undertaking.

GSA recovery efforts began almost immediately.  Twenty pumps running continuously over 72 hours were needed to remove the water from the sub-basement level and an additional five feet of water that had penetrated the basement.  Damage assessment quickly revealed the need for extensive repair or replacement of most major building systems—including electrical, HVAC, fire safety, and water.  Some destroyed mechanical units had to be custom-designed.

An exceptional team—led by GSA’s National Capital Region and including IRS facilities managers, with Grunley Construction Company and Jacobs Facilities, Inc. from the private sector side—immediately recognized the dimensions of the situation.  An inaccessible building was extremely disruptive to the IRS workforce, and an empty building adjacent to the Mall had a negative connotation from a symbolic perspective.

This monumental building deserved a monumental effort to come back to life, and that’s what it got.  A renovation project of this magnitude would normally have taken several years.  Instead, this dedicated and hard-working team accomplished the impossible in just five months.

There’s still some ongoing basement work to be done.  But the first wave of IRS employees has begun occupying the first seven floors and will continue to move in over the next several weeks.

IRS is a major GSA client.  GSA’s response to this crisis is indicative of the level of service GSA is committed to providing for all its federal customer agencies—no matter the size of the building, the agency, or the challenge.