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Doan Helps Celebrate Baltimore Custom House Centennial

Remarks by
 Lurita Alexis Doan
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
U.S. Custom House Centennial Celebration
Baltimore, Maryland
December 3, 2007

 

Thank you, Barbara Shelton.

Senator Cardin …
Congressman Cummings …
Assistant Commissioner Winkowski,
Ladies and gentlemen …

It’s very appropriate that GSA, Customs and the Department of Homeland Security are participating in today’s wonderful celebration. The work performed by GSA on this historic treasure continues a dynamic partnership between our agencies that has long benefited our nation and citizens.

Sea and land ports have played a critical role since America won her independence more than 200 years ago. That’s as true today as in 1789, when President Washington signed the Tariff Act, which authorized the collection of duties on imported goods.  Places like Nogales, Arizona and El Paso, Texas are far from Gay and Water Streets here in Baltimore, but they, too, are part of the vast network that provides access to our shores and borders.

One of my priorities has been to bring new energy and ideas to the process of designing and building additional, secure capacity at our land ports. Over the past 15 years, trade across the borders has dramatically increased while capacity at our ports hasn’t kept pace.  To solve this problem, we have to think differently. I’ve challenged Team GSA to head up this effort. I have also personally visited several land ports of entry to better understand the challenges we face. There are currently 24 border station projects underway.

Related to this, GSA is also working hard to create a permanent headquarters for Homeland Security.  And of course our Federal Acquisition Service provides DHS with everything from telecommunications services to emergency supplies for FEMA after a disaster.

Such work – as well as our efforts here to keep the Custom House here in Baltimore in peak condition – speak to the precise reason GSA was created – to provide the supplies, services and world-class workspace other agencies need so they can stay focused on their core missions.

Perhaps the best thing about today is that it speaks of so many better days to come. GSA will make sure Homeland Security gets the headquarters its workers need and deserve; we will design and build secure ports of entry that facilitate the free flow of trade, and we will ensure that historic gems like the Baltimore Custom House remain efficient workplaces and are preserved for this generation and all that follow.

Thank you very much.