The Progress Made by Social Security Administration (SSA) in Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009


Good morning Chairman Tanner, Ranking Member Johnson and Members of this subcommittee.  My name is Rob Hewell and I am the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the General Services Administration (GSA), Public Buildings Service.  I am pleased to have the opportunity today to discuss GSA’s role, on behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA), in the delivery of a new Social Security Administration National Support Center.  We are happy to assist SSA in this very important project and we are happy to offer innovative workplace solutions in support of future SSA operations. 

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), SSA received a $500 million appropriation for a new National Support Center, to replace the existing National Computer Center in Woodlawn, Maryland.  SSA turned to GSA for assistance in locating, designing and building this new data center which will meet the agency’s redundancy and expansion needs for the long-term. 

We are excited to be a part of our nation’s economic recovery in the creation of new jobs and we are working closely with the SSA in defining their site, building infrastructure and space requirements.  We are planning for a facility of approximately 300,000 gross square feet to include data, office, and warehouse space that meets Uptime Tier 3 standards, sustainable design goals, and Interagency Security Council Level 4 security requirements. 

We are using our Design Excellence and Construction Excellence program processes in the delivery of this new data center.  These time-proven processes are intended to provide taxpayers with outstanding and cost-effective federal facilities.  We will use a multi-phased approach to the construction of the facility, ensuring that site and design criteria development are concurrent and interrelated.

Site Selection

Because of its lasting impact on the environment as well as future community planning, site selection is of great importance not only to SSA and GSA, but also to local communities.  Excellence in site selection is both a commitment and a process.  It is a commitment to provide GSA clients with well-located, high quality sites for superior workplaces, public spaces,
buildings, and landscapes.  It is also a process of researching, evaluating, and selecting a site that can best serve the interests of the federal government, the end users, and the community.

There are many factors associated with selecting and acquiring a site and a  data center creates added challenges.  For example, the large power demands of the data center require not only adequate utility capacity, but also redundant power, communications, and other utility infrastructure services.  Proximity to SSA Headquarters in Woodlawn, Maryland is required to facilitate the transition to a new data center and for employee access in the event of a local or national emergency. As we prepare for this site selection, SSA and GSA will consider all of these factors in our development of the area of consideration.

Project Schedule

In FY2008, prior to enactment of the ARRA, GSA received funding from SSA to develop a Program of Requirements for the National Support Center.  On April 1, 2009, GSA awarded a contract to Jacobs Facilities to assist in developing technical requirements for the new data center, facilitating site evaluations, and developing the solicitation for offers.  As part this contract, Jacobs will be conducting an energy optimization study focusing on building equipment, distribution, and system controls to help us achieve our agency’s energy goals.  Jacobs will also provide project management support to our project team as we mobilize for design and construction activities. 

Site and design activities will concurrently include developing the Program of Requirements (POR) for the data center and initiating site selection. The initial site selection process consists of finalizing technical site criteria and conducting site research and evaluation.  We intend to negotiate and award a contract for acquisition of the land in the 2nd quarter of FY2010. 

Once we acquire the site, we will begin developing the solicitation for a design-build contract based on the finalized POR. At the same time, we will continue developing the design criteria specific to that site.  Once these 2 components are completed, we will procure a contractor to both design and build the facility utilizing "best value" source selection procedures.  We anticipate contract award for design and construction of the new National Support Center in the 2nd quarter of FY2011.  Construction completion is scheduled for the 1st quarter of FY2014, at which time the building will be turned over to SSA for Information Technology (IT) migration.

In summary:
• Site Acquisition:  2nd quarter FY2010
• Design-build contract awarded:  2nd quarter FY2011
• Construction completion:  1st quarter FY2014

We are working closely with SSA and our industry partners to review procurement options with the intent to expedite this process as much as reasonably possible without compromising quality, our procurement responsibilities, or accepting undue risks or added costs.  In addition, we are using various project management tools to ensure that design and construction of this project continues forward on schedule and within budget.

Managing Risk

Projects of this size and scope do present challenges.  They can be subject to potential contractor protests, impacts identified during the process of environmental analysis, and challenges related to the nature of the fast-paced and ever-changing IT world. 

There are a number of steps we intend to take to minimize these risks.  We will establish a detailed Source Selection Plan for the design-build contract.  We will conduct environmental screening on possible sites to identify potential impacts early in the process.  We will provide a flexible facility design capable of accommodating expansion, mission related changes, and advancements in technology.  We will build a facility that incorporates the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.  We are engaging industry experts in data center technology, including experts in energy efficiency in data center design and operations from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, during the project development stages of this project, and have staffed this project with our most seasoned technical experts and project managers.  Along with SSA, we are happy to provide quarterly briefings to this subcommittee as the project proceeds

GSA has the experience and technical expertise to successfully deliver the new SSA National Support Center.  GSA owns and leases over 354 million square feet of space in 8,600 buildings in more than 2,200 communities nationwide.  Prior to the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, GSA has routinely managed an ongoing $11 billion real property capital program, including approximately 200 active construction projects with over 51 million rentable square feet. 
GSA is well-prepared to move swiftly to meet SSA's data center requirements on schedule, within budget, and with careful consideration given to our responsibility and accountability to American taxpayers.  We look forward to this challenge, we are committed to our partnership with SSA, and we are eager to work with members of this subcommittee in the successful delivery of the National Support Center as part of the Recovery Act program.


Chairman Tanner, Ranking Member Johnson and members of this subcommittee, this concludes my statement.  I will be pleased to support my colleagues from SSA in answering any questions you may have. 

Last Reviewed 2010-04-30