GSA Support for the Establishment of a Consolidated Headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

March 26, 2009


Good morning, Chairman Carney, Ranking Member Bilirakis and members of the subcommittee. My name is William Guerin and I am the Recovery Executive in our newly established Recovery Program Management Office in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Public Buildings Service. I appreciate this opportunity to speak on behalf of GSA to support the establishment of a consolidated headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

GSA, in partnership with DHS, is now undertaking one of the largest, most complex projects in our history. We are creating a headquarters campus for DHS on the site of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast Washington, DC. This project will create 4.5 million square feet of space with 1.5 million square feet of structured parking, to bring together the mission components DHS requires in its headquarters facility.

The site for this project is truly fitting for such an important Cabinet level agency. It is only two miles from our Capitol located on a hill with a commanding view of Washington and Northern Virginia. The site is also a National Historic Landmark, with historic buildings and landscapes, many of which will be preserved, reused, and incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters facility.

St. Elizabeths is the only federally owned site in Washington that is large enough to accommodate the DHS headquarters. Concomitantly, the creation of this headquarters complex presents the best opportunity available for preserving, reusing, and revitalizing this National Historic Landmark. Additionally, housing DHS on a federally owned site will save the American taxpayer up to over $600 million (in present value terms) compared with the cost of leasing the same amount of space for the next three decades. This is truly a win-win solution for the agency, for the City, the site, and the American taxpayer.

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the Master Plan for the West Campus at its January 2009 meeting contingent on GSA’s ability to construct the west access road connecting Firth Sterling Avenue, SE to the modified Malcolm X Avenue, SE/I-295 Interchange, through the Shepherd Parkway. NCPC commented favorably on the East Campus plan, but required that GSA submit an Amendment to the Final Master Plan for NCPC review and approval of both the East Campus plan and the access road improvements. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved the Master Plan on November 20, 2008. Both of these Federal planning and design authorities recognized the significant improvements to the final Master Plan that were made during the consultation process to help preserve this National Historic Landmark. The Master Plan provides for the rehabilitation and reuse of 52 of a total of 62 historic buildings and the preservation of historically significant landscapes and views. This is emblematic of our agency’s strong track record and commitment to historic preservation. To date, we have funded $28 million for the stabilization, evaluation and assessment of historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological features on the West Campus in anticipation of its redevelopment. GSA believes that the Master Plan strikes a measured balance between meeting the extraordinary housing needs of DHS while preserving the exceptional historic character of the National Historic Landmark.

The development costs of the DHS headquarters complex are expected to be $3.4 billion. Of this, $1.4 billion will be provided by DHS. GSA is studying how the project may provide substantial economic benefits for the community. These opportunities arise from direct employment in construction and the multiplier effect that construction activity and its payroll generate.

The new DHS headquarters will provide a tremendous economic boost to the Anacostia and Congress Heights neighborhoods, which are already experiencing a significant level of investment, thanks to the efforts of the District of Columbia Government. Construction contractors will be encouraged to establish apprenticeship programs, thereby providing job training for local residents. GSA expects that employees on site will patronize local merchants and additional jobs should be available to provide various vendor services to the site. In addition, DHS contractors may opt to locate their offices nearby, as contractors have done for other large government facilities.

The design for the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters on the St. Elizabeths Campus is underway with ongoing Section 106 consultations and there is continuous coordination with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Park Service (NPS) and the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) concerning Shepherd Parkway, a portion of which we propose to use to provide an access road off of I-295 that will accommodate 70% of the people working on site. GSA anticipates that FHWA will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) for transfer and interchange issues in July 2009.

While most of the new campus that is owned by the Federal Government will be located west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, 750,000 square feet plus structured parking will be placed on the East Campus, which is now owned by the District. The commencement of a Master Plan amendment containing a detailed analysis of the East Campus is targeted for contract award in April 2009 with a NEPA Notice of Intent (NOI) planned for May 2009.

Phase 1a construction for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the new U.S. Coast Guard headquarters building, which GSA may commence only after complying with a set of NCPC conditions, has been funded in the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. Design work on the one million square foot building is already under way. GSA will meet with NCPC in May 2009 to review the concept design.

This development represents an important prospect of preserving many of the historic buildings and landscapes that make St. Elizabeths a National Historic Landmark and we look forward to developing this important site for the DHS.

Lastly, we would like to acknowledge the help and assistance of many people and organizations, to which we owe a debt of gratitude. The Congressional support for the project, specifically that of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Department of Homeland Security, the staffs of the National Capital Planning Commission, the Commission of Fine Arts, the DC Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, who coordinated so closely with GSA throughout the planning process; all the Consulting Parties, whose time, attention, input, and dedication improved the plan, and whose efforts on the successfully concluded Programmatic Agreement were invaluable; the Ward 8 community and finally the District of Columbia Office of Planning and Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, without whose cooperation, the East Campus portion of the final Master Plan and ultimate development would not have been feasible.

Last Reviewed 2010-04-30