Progress on Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

FEBRUARY 23, 2010

Good Morning Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, and members of the Committee. My name is Robert A. Peck, and I am the Commissioner of the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Buildings Service (PBS). Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today to discuss GSA’s contribution to our nation’s economic recovery through green modernization and new construction of our federal buildings.

Nearly one year ago, $5.55 billion in funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) gave us an unprecedented and exciting opportunity to contribute to our nation’s economic recovery and environmental sustainability. The investments we made and continue to make in our public buildings are helping to stimulate job growth and retention in the construction and real estate sectors, reduce energy consumption, improve the environmental performance of our inventory, reduce our backlog of repairs and alterations, and increase the value of our assets. In addition, our investments will help further developments in energy efficient technologies, renewable energy generation, and green building solutions.

We are successfully meeting our established milestones to meet the intent and goals of the Recovery Act. I will first summarize, then further elaborate on our accomplishments. Since passage of the Recovery Act on February 17, 2009, we have accomplished the following:

  • Submitted the first spend plan, identifying projects funded by the Recovery Act, to Congress on March 31st.   As revised to date, the plan includes 261 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories.  These projects fall into four categories:
    1. New federal construction : 17 projects totaling $1 billion, including $450 million at the DHS Headquarters on the St. Elizabeths campus
    2. Major building modernizations: 45 projects totaling $3.2 billion
    3. Limited-scope “green” projects: 199 projects totaling $912 million

  • Established and met our target dates for contract awards and outlays:
    • $1 billion in contract awards by August 1, 2009
    • $2 billion in total contract awards by December 31, 2009
  • Put ourselves on track to meet our next targets:
    • Award a total of $4 billion by March 31, 2010
    • Award $5 billion in design and construction contracts by September 30, 2010
  • To date, we have obligated approximately $2.1 billion and outlaid over $184 million

  • Identified a number of green technologies to include in our projects. I am proud to announce that we have already installed 37 energy efficient lighting system projects, 7 PV roof projects, and 136 advanced meter projects.
    System Projects Underway as of 01/29/10 Projects Completed by 12/31/09
    System Tune-ups / Recommissioning  86  55
    Lighting  49  37
    Water  11  7
    PV Roof   22  7
    Roof   30  24
    Façade / Windows   9  6
    Advanced Meters  38  136
    Solar Hot Water   1  0
    Wind  2  2
    Geothermal  1  0

  • In addition to our Recovery Act Funds, GSA expects to receive approximately $1 billion in Recovery funds from other agencies, such as the Department of State and Social Security Administration, among others.  To date, we have received nearly $397 million in Recovery Act reimbursable work authorizations and of that have awarded over $120 million in contracts on behalf of other agencies.

  • Over the last 2 reporting periods, GSA obtained nearly 100 percent compliance on contract recipient employment reporting on all 500+ separate contract awards. During the first quarter, only one recipient did not comply; in the second quarter, GSA achieved 100% compliance.

  • Established PBS as a Green Proving Ground to provide practical data in order to measure the returns on investment in emerging green technologies and practices

GSA is proud of these accomplishments and our opportunity to contribute to this nation’s economic recovery and reinvestment in our building infrastructure. I will now elaborate further on what we’ve done as well as describe some of our exciting building projects.

Organizational Response

Given the urgency of the situation and the goals of the Recovery Act, we knew this could not be business as usual.  We moved forward quickly to select the best projects for accomplishing the goals of the Recovery Act based on two over-arching criteria: potential of the projects to put people back to work quickly and to transform federal buildings into high-performance green buildings. To help manage and oversee our Recovery Act program, PBS created a new national approach to program management and we adopted a credo of “On Schedule, On Budget and On Green.”

As described earlier, we met our targets of “On Schedule and On Budget” by achieving our aggressive goals of obligating $1 billion by August 1, 2009, and a total of $2 billion by December 31, 2009.  This means we awarded twice the dollar amount of contract awards in the last 6 months of fiscal year 2009 as we award in an entire “normal” year.  More impressively, we surpassed December’s goal of $2 billion by $70 million.  This is especially impressive given the fact that  project awards were on average 8-10 percent below our projected estimates, due to the soft construction markets in many areas. To further describe the magnitude of this achievement: to meet the December goal, we accelerated schedules for 98 projects representing $577 million in investments 

We are meeting our performance target of “On Green” with our Recovery Act funding targeted at high-performance green building projects. The funding provided by the Recovery Act has jump-started our effort to meet mandated energy and water conservation targets in the years to come. We appreciate Congress’ foresight to direct the majority of our funding toward high performing green buildings.

Key to meeting these aggressive measures are monitoring project progress, identifying schedule variances early, streamlining and accelerating projects, and sharing best practices.  PBS has quickly identified and revised the spend plan to reallocate savings from projects underway toward the enhancement, acceleration or funding of other projects. To date, we have revised our spend plan twice:  revisions were submitted to this committee on November 23, 2009 and January 19, 2010. The spend plan revisions represent a reallocation of more than $200 million. Speedy revisions to the spend plan were essential to meeting our interim goals and will be essential to meeting the mandated timelines in the Recovery Act.  

Stimulating the Economy

GSA’s infrastructure investments vary in scope, type, and region and cover our entire portfolio. Funds from the Recovery Act are converting our inventory to high-performance green buildings, as well as renovating and constructing federal buildings, courthouses, and land ports of entry. These projects range from single building system modernizations to large complex new construction projects. As of February 16, 2010, our obligations totaling $2.1 billion are funding the following projects in 50 states and 2 territories and in the District of Columbia:

  • New Federal Buildings and Courthouses:  8
  • Land Ports of Entry:  6
  • High Performance Green Buildings - Full & Partial Modernizations:  43
  • High Performance Green Buildings Limited Scope Projects:  176

A list of the projects awarded as of this hearing is enclosed.

Notably, GSA’s “obligations” are awards flowing directly to our contractors, i.e., directly into the construction, real estate and architecture/engineering sectors.  While contract award is the catalyst for money flowing through the economy, funds associated with construction or design projects are not immediately outlaid following contract award. Rather, payments to contractors for progress made over the life of the contract provide steady support for our economy over an extended period – not a jolt that lasts only a few months.

Less visible but important contributions to economic recovery follow shortly after we award a contract: contractors immediately begin securing financing, hiring initial personnel, and initiating early steps to perform the project.  In addition, job numbers increase after the contractor completes these initial steps, not necessarily immediately after the contract has been awarded.  There is a lag between the time a contract is awarded and when new jobs are created.

As of the reporting quarter ending December 31, 2009, reports from our Recovery Act funding recipients indicate that 1,646 prime contractor jobs have been funded as a direct result of PBS Recovery Act funding. 

Diversity of Investments

As noted, the projects we have funded vary in amount of investment, scope of project, type of project, and geographic region.

New projects range across the nation in size and scope

For example, in Austin, Texas, we are building a new courthouse that incorporates many innovative green features such as high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and extensive use of natural light.  PBS is building this courthouse to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Although construction began in September, the project team continues to review the design to determine if additional high-performance green building features can be added to the project, including recycled interior finish materials and a highly insulated cool roof. Anticipated completion date is December 2012.

Our progress toward the consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Headquarters at the St. Elizabeths campus, in Washington, DC is on track. The St. Elizabeths project is the Washington metropolitan area’s largest federal project since construction of the Pentagon, and will help revitalize and spur additional development in Southeast Washington’s Anacostia community. Funding for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Headquarters, the first project for the DHS Headquarters at St. Elizabeths is a mix of Recovery and non-Recovery funding from both GSA and DHS.  The first awards occurred before August 2009, earlier than anticipated.  Subsequent awards for construction management services and for construction of the core/shell of the National Operations Center followed in November and December. We also awarded a contract in December to complete the design of some future phases of this enormous and critical campus project. Finally, in December we also made an award for the renovation/expansion of the central utility plant for the St. Elizabeths campus. The USCG Headquarters will feature green roofs, landscaped courtyards to capture and reuse surface water runoff, and innovative HVAC systems. We registered all buildings at St. Elizabeths with USGBC, and we expect the St. Elizabeths campus to earn a LEED Gold certification.

GSA is moving forward with a $213 million port-replacement project in Nogales-Mariposa, Arizona. The entire construction portion, $199.4 million, is funded through the Recovery Act. The Mariposa LPOE is expected to achieve a LEED Silver certification.  It will use electricity-generating photovoltaic solar panels, solar-powered domestic hot water, and advanced lighting. Our goal is to provide up to 20 percent of the facility's energy from solar power produced onsite. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2014. 

The Bakersfield Courthouse in California is a 33,400 gross square foot, two-story courthouse project within the central business district of Bakersfield. The new courthouse will be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the historic downtown area.  Key green elements include improved indirect daylighting in the courtroom, radiant heating and cooling, drought-tolerant landscaping, solar array infrastructure, active energy saving technologies and evaporative cooling.  The Bakersfield design-build contract was awarded in November 2009, with construction scheduled to start in June 2010. Completion and occupancy is scheduled for 2012. The project goal is to attain a LEED Silver rating or better.

PBS: A Proving Ground for Green Technologies and Practices

We are leveraging our Recovery Act investments to turn our large, varied and stable inventory of buildings into a proving ground for green building technologies, materials, and operating regimes. By adopting new ideas and products, then evaluating and publicizing our results, GSA is working to become one of the commercial real estate industry’s “go to” sources for data on the environmental and economic payback of new systems and procedures. Our investments in innovative technologies and alternative energy solutions can help lead the transformation to new green jobs and new green industries.

For example, at the Edith Green/Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, Oregon, we are installing one of the nation’s most extensive vegetative facades. This westerly-facing green façade will provide shading and reduce solar load during summer months, and will admit light and allow solar gain in winter months.

At the Major General Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, GSA intends to design and install a state-of-the-art photovoltaic roof with over 4,500 solar panels. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Energy and supported by the Sandia National Laboratories. The panels will cover 25 percent of the 480,000 square foot roof and will produce over 1.4 megawatts of electricity. GSA is mounting a “Photovoltaic Lab” comprised of four alternative photovoltaic systems; each array is about three kilowatts each. This lab will create a benchmark for commercially available photovoltaic solar panels operating in Midwest climates, and will provide long-term operational and maintenance “lessons learned” for each of these systems. The photovoltaic systems are expected to reduce peak electrical usage of the building by six percent as well as provide a proving ground for emerging technologies.

Measures to Improve Projects Previously Funded

In addition to funding new project starts, we are improving the green building performance of projects that were already underway before the Recovery Act.

For example, GSA awarded a contract for the renovation of the façade and windows of the historic Brooklyn General Post Office for $53 million in July 2009 that will improve the energy performance of the facility and complete another aspect of the renovation of this historic asset.

At the Margaret Chase Smith Building in Bangor, Maine, we will be able to significantly reduce our energy consumption and obtain LEED certification by upgrading or replacing windows, HVAC, and electrical systems. The building’s current design reduces energy usage (BTUs per GSF) by half and relies on geothermal systems for 90 percent of the required heating and cooling. We will achieve further energy reductions through Recovery Act funded energy improvements.

At the Columbus, New Mexico Land Port of Entry, we are providing additional funds to improve the energy efficiency of the facility with a goal of achieving a net zero energy building. A net zero energy building is a highly energy-efficient building that uses renewable energy-generation technologies to produce as much energy as it consumes from traditional utility grids over the course of a year. Not only will this reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also support the mission need of DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection to maintain critical systems in the event of a complete loss of utilities. Building systems and technologies may include: integrated building walls containing super-insulation and high-performance glass; high-efficiency HVAC systems; energy-saving lighting systems; ground-source heat pumps; passive solar heating; natural ventilation; use of day lighting; solar heated air; and solar thermal water heaters.

Limited Scope Projects

We are also pursuing projects that will upgrade the performance of specific systems within many of our buildings. These “Limited Scope” projects focus on improving energy performance and are evaluated in the context of the existing physical condition of the building. We evaluated these buildings and identified opportunities to “tune-up” the systems, improve building mechanical system controls, recommission building systems and retrofit or replace lighting or HVAC systems.  To better achieve the goals of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, we particularly focused on those projects related to renewable energy production and water conservation.

For example, at the Robert J. Dole U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri, GSA invested $1.6 million to install a new white roof and photovoltaic solar panels. The white membrane roof will deflect the sun’s rays and keep the building cooler in the summer while helping to reduce the urban heat island effect. In addition, 200 thin-film photovoltaic solar panels installed on the portion of the roof receiving the most sun are expected to generate about 5 percent of the building’s electricity. The roof design and installation created jobs in solar manufacturing, design, and roofing. GSA also plans to invest an additional $3.1 million to improve the building’s infrastructure and operating systems.

GSA has evaluated approximately 2,800 proposed energy conservation measures for 250 buildings. Only the best proposals were approved and will progress toward contract awards within the month.

High-Performance Green Building Small Projects

In addition to the Limited Scope projects, there are approximately $100 million of High-Performance Green Building Small Projects that represent other opportunities for funding measures to convert our buildings to high-performance green buildings. These projects tend to be smaller in scope and size.

For example, GSA will be installing five 100 kilowatt wind turbines at the Pembina, North Dakota Land Port of Entry. Combined, the turbines will produce 76 percent of the energy consumed at the station and will generate approximately 1,250 renewable energy credits (REC). Multiple turbines will provide system redundancy during routine maintenance and power outages. Standing 90 feet high, these units will become landmarks and a tangible symbol of our commitment to renewable energy as visitors cross the border from Canada to the United States.

Increased Workload Created by Recovery Act Projects

To address the increased workload created by Recovery Act funded projects, we have reassigned experienced existing personnel to support Recovery Act projects. Gaps created by this movement as well as new staffing requirements created by the burgeoning workload are being filled, as appropriate, with temporary/term federal personnel or contractors.

Managing, Tracking and Reporting Building Projects

As we move forward with our infrastructure investments, we have set interim target dates for project awards in each quarter to ensure we obligate $5 billion of the more than $5.5 billion we received in Recovery Act funds by the end of fiscal year 2010. We established tracking and reporting systems to help us meet our reporting requirements and better manage our projects. We are monitoring “early warning” signals of project slippage and taking immediate corrective action.

Recipient Reporting

The Recovery Act requires contractors and other recipients of Recovery Act funds to submit quarterly reports that provide the public information on the prime and sub-awards, funding, and project status.  The second reporting period was completed on January 29. 

For this reporting period, we continued the multimedia outreach approach we developed last reporting quarter to ensure recipients were aware of the quarterly reporting requirement. We telephoned our prime recipients, directing them to the website used to register and report, we e-mailed Recipient Reporting Guidance to all recipients, we provided pre-populated report templates, and we posted guidance to the website. We also continued our call center to assist recipients with any questions about reporting. Our recipients have provided positive feedback about GSA’s call center, and have expressed gratitude to our staff for assisting with the reporting process. I am proud to report that as of January 30, 2010, 100 percent of GSA’s recipients have reported in 533 reports.


We are excited that apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs are an integral part of our Recovery Act projects. GSA launched the pre-apprenticeship program with two contract awards to the Community Services Agency (CSA) of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. (OTI) in Portland, Oregon. In December 2009, CSA (20 graduates) and OTI (23 graduates) both celebrated the first graduating classes of pre-apprentices.  CSA, OTI, and subsequent pre-apprenticeship program contract awardees will work with the Department of Labor to place the program graduates in registered apprenticeship programs at construction sites. The registered apprentices will gain on-the-job experience and industry-recognized credentials. 

GSA is in the process of soliciting proposals to fund additional pre-apprenticeship training programs in six identified high unemployment areas:  San Juan, Puerto Rico; Tampa, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; Fresno/Bakersfield, California; Youngstown/Dayton, Ohio; Providence, Rhode Island. The pre-solicitation notice was advertised on January 20, 2010, the request for proposals was advertised on February 4, 2010, and proposals will be due on or about March 3, 2010.

Support to Other Agencies

In addition to GSA’s Recovery Act program, we are supporting the real estate needs of other agencies that have received Recovery Act funding, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), DHS, the Department of State (State), and DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP). To date, we have entered into reimbursable work agreements with customer agencies totaling $397 million across 26 projects. Of this amount, $120 million has already been awarded.  In total, we anticipate receiving approximately $1 billion for Recovery Act projects from our customers.

  • Working collaboratively with SSA, GSA is working to deliver a new data center to replace the existing National Computer Center. SSA turned to GSA for assistance in locating, designing and building this new data center, which will meet the agency’s expansion needs for the long-term. We are in the process of developing SSA's Program of Requirements for the new data center, and expect to complete the Program of Requirements in August 2010. We are conducting a site search including the possibility of locating the new data center within the existing headquarters campus. Construction award is expected in March 2011.

  • For the St. Elizabeths DHS’ Headquarters consolidation, which provides space totaling 4.5 million gross square feet, GSA has accepted $199 million in reimbursable Recovery Act funds from DHS.  Of this amount, $50.5 million has been awarded. As described above, we are pursuing a number of exciting and innovative high performing green features for the DHS Headquarters; the buildings have been registered with the USGBC and we anticipate earning a LEED Gold certification.

  • We are providing acquisition, project management, planning, design/build, and construction management services in support of CBP's Land Port of Entry (LPOE) Modernization Program. GSA has accepted $88 million in reimbursable funds related to the Recovery Act, of which $64 million has been awarded.  CBP's Recovery Act funds will be utilized to replace eight aging LPOEs in four states along the northern border: Morgan, Scobey and Wild Horse in Montana; Churubusco in New York; Antler, Noonan and Maida in North Dakota; and Frontier in Washington. Seven projects were awarded on August 14, 2009 using GSA’s IDIQ contracts. The design contract for the eighth project, Maida, North Dakota, was awarded in January 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2010. The designs for the seven other projects are expected to be completed by April of 2010.


Congress entrusted GSA with a significant increase in funding to support the construction and modernization of high performance green buildings while quickly putting people back to work during these challenging economic times.  The men and women of GSA have risen to the challenge, and we are implementing our program rapidly and successfully.

Today, I have described GSA’s accomplishments and contributions to our nation’s economic recovery through our investments in green technologies and reinvestments in our public buildings funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. We look forward to working with you and members of this Committee as we continue to deliver this important work.

See list of projects awarded as of 1/29/2010.



Last Reviewed 2010-04-30